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For  Teachers  and  Parents 

Based  on  the  Cornell  Nature-Study  Leaflets,  with  Much 
Additional  Material  and  Many  New  Illustrations 


Lecturer  in  Nature-Study  in  Cornell  University;    Author  of  How  to  Keep  Bees,  and  Ways 

of  the  Six-Footed;    Illustrator  and  Engraver  for  Manual  for  the 

Study  of  Insects  and  for  Insect  Life 


VOL.   I 


ITHACA,  N.  Y. 



COPYRIGHT     191 1 

Press  of  W.  F.  Humphrey 
Geneva,  N.  Y. 















The  Cornell  University  Nature-Study  propaganda  was  essentially  an 
agricultural  movement  in  its  inception  and  its  aims ;  it  was  inaugurated  as 
a  direct  aid  to  better  methods  of  agriculture  in  New  York  State.     During 
the  years  of  agricultural  depression  1891-1893,  the  Charities  of  New  York 
City  found  it  necessary  to  help  many  people  who  had  come  from  the  rural 
districts — a  condition  hitherto  unknown.     The  philanthropists  managing 
the   Association    for    Improving    the    Condition    of    the    Poor    asked, 
"What  is  the  matter  with  the  land  of  New  York  State  that  it  cannot 
support  its  own  population?"     A  conference  was  caUed  to  consider  the 
situation  to  which  many  people  from  different  parts  of  the  State  were 
invited;  among  them  was  the  author  of  this  book,  who  little  realized  that 
in  attending  that  meeting  the  whole  trend  of  her  activities  would  be  thereby 
changed.     Mr.  George  T.  Powell,  who  had  been  a  most  efficient  Director 
of  Farmers'  Institutes  of  New  York  State  was  invited  to  the  conference  as 
an  expert  to  explain  conditions  and  give  advice  as  to  remedies.     The 
situation  seemed  so  serious  that  a  Committee  for  the  Promotion  of  Agricul- 
ture in  New  York  State  was  appointed.     Of  this  committee  the  Honorable 
Abram  S.  Hewitt  was  Chairman,  Mr.  R.  Fulton  Cutting,  Treasurer,  Mr. 
Wm.  H.  Tolman,  Secretary.     The  other  members  were  Walter  L.  Suydam, 
Wm.  E.  Dodge,  Jacob  H.  Schiff,  George  T.  Powell,  G.  Howard  Davidson, 
Howard  Townsend,  Professor  I.  P.  Roberts,  C.  McNamee,  Mrs.  J.  R. 
Lowell,  and  Mrs.  A.  B.  Comstock.     Mr.  George  T.  Powell  was  made 
Director  of  the  Department  of  Agricultural  Education. 

At  the  first  meeting  of  this  committee  Mr.  Powell  made  a  strong  plea 
for  interesting  the  children  of  the  country  in  farming  as  a  remedial  measure, 
and  maintained  that  the  first  step  toward  agriculture  was  nature-study. 
It  had  been  Mr.  Powell's  custom  to  give  simple  agricultural  and  nature- 
study  instruction  to  the  school  children  of  every  town  where  he  was  con- 
ducting a  fanners'  institute,  and  his  opinion  was,  therefore,  based  upon 
experience.  The  committee  desired  to  see  for  itself  the  value  of  this  idea, 
and  experimental  work  was  suggested,  using  the  schools  of  Westchester 
County  as  a  laboratory.  Mr.  R.  Fulton  Cutting  generously  furnished  the 
funds  for  this  experiment,  and  work  was  done  that  year  in  the  Westchester 
schools,  which  satisfied  the  committee  of  the  soundness  of  the  project. 

The  committee  naturally  concluded  that  such  a  fundamental  mo\'cment 
must  be  a  public  rather  than  a  private  enterprise ;  and  Mr.  Frederick  Nixon 
then  Chairman  of  the  Ways  and  Means  Committee  of  the  Assembly, 
was  invited  to  meet  with  the  committee  at  Mr.  Hewitt's  home.  Mr. 
Nixon  had  been  from  the  beginning  of  his  public  career  deeply  interested 
in  improving  the  farming  conditions  of  the  State.     In  1894,  it  was  through 


Handbook  of  Naiure-Siudy 

his  influence  and  the  support  given  him  by  the  Chautauqua  Horticultural 
Society  under  the  leadership  of  Mr.  John  W.  Spencer,  that  an  appropriation 
had  been  given  to  Cornell  University  for  promoting  the  horticultural  inter- 
ests of  the  western  counties  of  the  State.     In  addition  to  other  work  done 
through  this  appropriation,  horticultural  schools  were  conducted  under 
the  direction  of  Professor  L.  H.  Bailey   with  the  aid  of  other  Cornell 
instructors  and  especially  of  Mr.  E.  G.  Lodeman ;  these  schools  had  proved 
to  be  most  useful  and  were  well  attended.     Therefore,  Mr.  Nixon  was  open- 
minded  toward  an  educational  movement.     He  Hstened  to  the  plan  of  the 
committee  and  after  due  consideration  declared  that  if  this  new  measure 
would  surely  help  the  farmers  of  the  State,  the  money  would  be  forth- 
coming.    The  committee  unanimously  decided  that  if  an  appropriation 
were  made  for  this  purpose  it  should  be  given  to  the  Cornell  College  of 
Agriculture;  and  that  year  eight  thousand  dollars  was  added  to  the  Cornell 
University  Fund,  for  Extension  Teaching  and  inaugurating  this  work.    The 
work  was  begun  under  Professor  LP.  Roberts;  after  one  year  Professor 
Roberts  placed  it  under  the  supervision  of  Professor  L.  H.  Bailey,  who  for 
the  fifteen  years  since  has  been  the  inspiring  leader  of  the  movement,  as  well 
as  the  official  head. 

In  1896,  Mr.  John  W.  Spencer,  a  fruit  grower  in  Chautauqua  County, 

became  identified  with  the  enterprise;  he  had  lived  in  niral  communities 

and  he  knew  their  needs.     He  it  was  who  first  saw  clearly  that  the  first  step 

in  the  great  work  was  to  help  the  teacher  through  simply  written  leaflets; 

and  later  he  originated  the  great  plan  of  organizing  the  children  in  the 

schools  of  the  State  into  Junior  NaturaHsts  Clubs,  which   developed  a 

remarkable  phase  of  the  movement.     The  members  of  these  clubs  paid 

their  dues  by  writing  letters  about  their  nature  observations  to  Mr.  Spencer, 

who  speedily  became  their  beloved  "Uncle  John;"   a  button  and  charter 

were  given  for  continued  and  earnest  work.     Some  years,  30,000  children 

were  thus  brought  into  direct  communication  with  Cornell  University 

through  Mr.  Spencer.     A  monthly  leaflet  for  Junior  Naturalists  followed; 

and  it  was  to  help  in  this  enterprise  that  Miss  Alice  G.  McCloskey,  the  able 

Editor  of  the  present  Rural  School  Leaflet,  was  brought  into  the  work. 

Later,  Mr.  Spencer  organized  the  children's  garden  movement  by  forming 

the  children  of  the  State  into  junior  gardeners;  at  one  time  he  had  25,000 

school  pupils  working  in  gardens  and  reporting  to  him. 

In  1899,  Mrs.;  Mary  Rogers  Miller,  who  had  proven  a  most  efficient 
teacher  when  representing  Cornell  nature-study  in  the  State  Teachers' 
Institutes,  planned  and  started  the  Home  Nature-Study  Course  Leaflets 
for  the  purpose  of  helping  the  teachers  by  correspondence,  a  work  which 
fell  to  the  author  in  1 903  when  Mrs.  Miller  was  called  to  other  fields. 

For  the  many  years  during  which  New  York  State  has  intrusted  this 
important  work  to  Cornell  University,  the  teaching  of  nature-study  has 

Preface  VII 

gone  steadily  on  in  the  University,  in  teachers'  institutes,  in  State  summer 
schools,  through  various  publications  and  in  correspondence  courses. 
Many  have  assisted  in  this  work,  notably  Dr.  W.  C.  Thro,  Dr.  A.  A.  Allen, 
and  Miss  Ada  Georgia.  The  New  York  Education  Department  with 
Charles  R.  Skinner  as  Commissioner  of  Education  and  Dr.  Isaac  Stout  as 
the  Director  of  Teachers'  Institutes  co-operated  heartily  with  the  move- 
ment from  the  first.  Later  with  the  co-operation  of  Dr.  Andrew  Draper,  as 
Commissioner  of  Education,  many  of  the  Cornell  leaflets  have  been  written 
with  the  special  purpose  of  aiding  in  carrying  out  the  New  York  State 
Syllabus  in  Nature-Study  and  Agriculture. 

The  leaflets  upon  which  this  volume  is  based  were  published  in  the 
Home  Nature-Study  Course  during  the  years  1 903-191 1,  in  limited  editions 
and  were  soon  out  of  print.  It  is  to  make  these  lessons  available  to  the 
general  public  that  this  volume  has  been  compiled.  While  the  subject 
matter  of  the  lessons  herein  given  is  essentially  the  same  as  in  the  leaflets, 
the  lessons  have  all  been  rewritten  for  the  sake  of  consistency,  and  many 
new  lessons  have  been  added  to  bridge  gaps  and  make  a  coherent  whole. 

Because  the  lessons  were  written  during  a  period  of  so  many  years,  each 
lesson  has  been  prepared  as  if  it  were  the  only  one,  and  without  reference  to 
others.  If  there  is  any  uniformity  of  plan  in  the  lessons,  it  is  due  to  the 
inherent  qualities  of  the  subjects,  and  not  to  a  type  plan  in  the  mind  of  the 
writer;  for,  in  her  opinion,  each  subject  should  be  treated  individually  in 
nature-study ;  and  in  her  long  experience  as  a  nature-study  teacher  she  has 
never  been  able  to  give  a  lesson  twice  ahke  on  a  certain  topic  or  secure 
exactly  the  same  results  twice  in  succession.  It  should  also  be  stated  that 
it  is  not  because  the  author  undervalues  physics  nature-study  that  it  has 
been  left  out  of  these  lessons,  but  because  her  own  work  has  been  always 
along  biological  lines. 

The  reason  why  nature-study  has  not  yet  accomplished  its  mission,  as 
thought-core  for  much  of  the  required  work  in  our  public  schools,  is  that 
the  teachers  are  as  a  whole  untrained  in  the  subject.  The  children  are 
eager  for  it,  unless  it  is  spoiled  in  the  teaching;  and  whenever  we  find  a 
teacher  with  an  understanding  of  out-of-door  life  and  a  love  for  it,  there  we 
find  nature-study  in  the  school  is  an  inspiration  and  a  joy  to  pupils  and 
teacher.  It  is  because  of  the  author's  sympathy  with  the  untrained  teacher 
and  her  full  comprehension  of  her  difficulties  and  helplessness  that  this  book 
has  been  written.  These  difficulties  are  chiefly  three-fold:  The  teacher 
does  not  know  what  there  is  to  see  in  studying  a  plant  or  animal ;  she  knows 
little  of  the  Hterature  that  might  help  her;  and  because  she  knows  so  little 
of  the  subject,  she  has  no  interest  in  giving  a  lesson  about  it.  As  a  matter 
of  fact,  the  Hterature  concerning  our  common  animals  and  plants  is  so 
scattered  that  a  teacher  would  need  a  large  library  and  almost  unHmited 
time  to  prepare  lessons  for  an  extended  nature-study  course. 

VIII  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  writer's  special  work  for  fifteen  years  in  Extension  teaching  has  been 
the  helping  of  the  untrained  teacher  through  personal  instruction  and 
through  leaflets.  Many  methods  were  tried  and  finally  there  was  evolved 
the  method  followed  in  this  volume :  All  the  facts  available  and  pertinent 
concerning  each  topic  have  been  assembled  in  the  "Teacher's  story"  to  make 
her  acquainted  with  the  subject;  this  is  followed  by  an  outline  for  observa- 
tion on  the  part  of  the  pupils  while  studying  the  object.  It  would  seem 
that  with  the  teacher's  story  before  the  eyes  of  the  teacher,  and  the  subject 
of  the  lesson  before  the  eyes  of  the  pupils  with  a  number  of  questions  leading 
them  to  see  the  essential  characteristics  of  the  object,  there  should  result  a 
wider  knowledge  of  nature  than  is  given  in  this  or  any  other  book. 

That  the  lessons  are  given  in  a  very  informal  manner,  and  that  the  style 
of  writing  is  often  colloquial,  result  from  the  fact  that  the  leaflets  upon 
which  the  book  is  based  were  written  for  a  correspondence  course  in  which 
the  communications  were  naturally  informal  and  chatty.  That  the  book 
is  meant  for  those  untrained  in  science  accounts  for  the  rather  loose  termin- 
ology employed;  as,  for  instance,  the  use  of  the  word  seed  in  the  popular 
sense  whether  it  be  a  drupe,  an  akene,  or  other  form  of  fruit;  or  the  use  of 
the  word  pod  for  almost  any  seed  envelope,  and  many  Hke  instances.  Also, 
it  is  very  Hkely,  that  in  teaching  quite  incidentally  the  rudiments  of  the 
principles  of  evolution,  the  results  may  often  seem  to  be  confused  with  an 
idea  of  purpose,  which  is  quite  unscientific.  But  let  the  critic  labor  for 
fifteen  years  to  interest  the  untrained  adult  mind  in  nature's  ways,  before  he 
casts  any  stones !  And  it  should  be  always  borne  in  mind  that  if  the  author 
has  not  dipped  deep  in  the  wells  of  science,  she  has  used  only  a  child's  cup. 
For  many  years  requests  have  been  frequent  from  parents  who  have 
wished  to  give  their  children  nature  interests  during  vacations  in  the  coun- 
try. They  have  been  borne  in  mind  in  planning  this  volume;  the  lessons 
are  especially  fitted  for  field  work,  even  though  schoolroom  methods  are 
so  often  suggested. 

The  author  feels  apologetic  that  the  book  is  so  large.  However,  it  does 
not  contain  more  than  any  intelligent  country  child  of  twelve  should  know 
of  his  environment;  things  that  he  should  know  naturally  and  without 
effort,  although  it  might  take  him  half  his  hfe-time  to  learn  so  much  if  he 
should  not  begin  before  the  age  of  twenty.  That  there  are  inconsistencies, 
inaccuracies,  and  even  blunders  in  the  volume  is  quite  inevitable.  The 
only  excuse  to  be  offered  is  that,  if  through  its  use,  the  children  of  our  land 
learn  early  to  read  nature's  truths  with  their  own  eyes,  it  will  matter  little 
to  them  what  is  written  in  books. 

The  author  wishes  to  make  grateful  acknowledgment  to  the  following 
people:  To  Professor  Wilford  M.  Wilson  for  his  chapter  on  the  weather; 
to  Miss  Mary  E.  Hill  for  the  lessons  on  mould,  bacteria,  the  minerals,  and 
reading  the  weather  maps;   to  Miss  Catherine  Straith  for  the  lessons  on 

Preface  IX 

the  earthworm  and  the  soil;  to  Miss  Ada  Georgia  for  much  valuable 
assistance  in  preparing  the  original  leaflets  on  which  these  lessons  are  based; 
to  Dean  L.  H.  Bailey  and  to  Dr.  David  S.  Jordan  for  permission  to  quote 
their  writings;  to  Mr.  John  W.  Spencer  for  the  use  of  his  story  on  the 
movements  of  the  sun;  to  Dr.  Grove  Karl  Gilbert,  Dr.  A.  C.  Gill,  Dr. 
Benjamin  Duggar,  Professor  S.  H.  Gage  and  Dr.  J.  G.  Needham  for 
reading  and  criticizing  parts  of  the  manuscript ;  to  Miss  Eliza  Tonks  for 
reading  the  proof ;  to  the  Director  of  the  College  of  Agriculture  for  use  of 
the  engravings  made  for  the  original  leaflets;  to  Miss  Martha  Van  Rens- 
selaer for  the  use  of  many  pictures  from  Boys  and  Girls;  to  Professor 
Cyrus  Crosby,  and  to  Messrs.  J.  T.  Lloyd,  A.  A.  Allen  and  R.  Matheson 
for  the  use  of  their  personal  photographs;  to  the  U.  S.  Geological  Survey 
and  the  U.  S.  Forest  Service  for  the  use  of  photographs;  to  Louis  A. 
Fuertes  for  drawings  of  birds ;  to  Houghton,  Mifflin  &  Company  for  the 
use  of  the  poems  of  Lowell,  Harte  and  Larcom,  and  various  extracts  from 
Burroughs  and  Thoreau;  to  Small,  Maynard  &  Company  and  to  John 
Lane  &  Company  for  the  use  of  poems  of  John  T.  Babb;  to  Doubleday, 
Page  &  Company  for  the  use  of  pictures  of  birds  and  flowers ;  and  to  the 
American  Book  Company  for  the  use  of  electrotypes  of  dragon-flies  and 
astronomy.  Especially  thanks  are  extended  to  Miss  Anna  C.  Stryke  for 
numerous  drawings,  including  most  of  the  initials 

iiimimimimiiiiiiii*  iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiininilfimiTniiiTi   ihiirtitifiiTiTiinnrii    i       "   mitfi  iitrtiUfrTiiiiHiinni'irffiii 


The  Teaching  of  Nature-Study 


What  Nature-Study  is ^ 

What  Nature-Study  Should  do  for  the  Child i 

Nature-Study  as  a  Help  to  Health 2 

What  Nature-Study  Should  do  for  the  Teacher 2 

When  and  Why  the  Teacher  Should  say  "I  do  not  know!" 3 

Nature-Study,  The  EUxir  of  Youth 4 

Nature-Study  as  a  Help  in  School  Discipline 4 

The  Relation  of  Nature-Study  to  Science 5 

Nature-Study  not  for  Drill ^ 

The  Child  not  Interested  in  Nature-Study 6 

When  to  Give  the  Lesson 

The  Length  of  the  Lesson 7 

The  Nature-Study  Lesson  Always  New 7 

Nature-Study  and  Object  Lessens 7 

Nature-Study  in  the  Schoolroom 

Nature-Study  and  Museum  Specimens 

The  Lens,  Microscope  and  Field-glass  as  Helps 9 

Use  of  Pictures,  Charts  and  Blackboard  Drawings 10 

The  Use  of  Scientific  Names ^° 

The  Story  as  a  Supplement  to  the  Nature-Study  Lesson 10 

The  Nature-Study  Attitude  toward  Life  and  Death 1 1 

Should  the  Nature-Study  Teacher  Teach  How  to  Destroy  Life? I3 

The  Field  Note-book "3 

The  Field  Excursion ^^ 

Pets  as  Nature-Study  Subjects ^5 

The  Correlation  of  Nature-Study  with  Language  Work 16 

The  Correlation  of  Nature-Study  with  Drawing ^7 

The  Correlation  of  Nature-Study  with  Geography ^8 

The  Correlation  of  Nature-Study  with  History ^^ 

The  Correlation  of  Nature-Study  with  Arithmetic ^9 

Gardening  and  Nature-Study 

Nature-Study  and  Agriculture 

Nature-Study  Clubs 

How  to  Use  this  Book 

Animal  Life 


I     Bird  Study 
Beginning  Bird  Study  in  the  Primary  Grades 25 

Feathers  as  Clothing 

Feathers  as  Ornament 

How  Birds  Fly ^^ 

Eyes  and  Ears  of  Birds 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


The  Form  and  Use  of  Beaks 37 

The  Feet  of  Birds 39 

Chicken  Ways 4i 

Pigeons 45 

The  Canary  and  the  Goldfinch 49 

The  Robin 54 

TheBhiebird 6o 

The  White-breasted  Nuthatch 63 

The  Chickadee 66 

The  Downy  Woodpecker 69 

The  Sapsucker 73 

The  Redheaded  Woodpecker 75 

The  FHcker  or  Yellow-hammer 77 

The  Meadowlark 80 

The  English  Sparrow 84 

The  Chipping  Sparrow 88 

The  Song  Sparrow 9^ 

The  Mockingbird 94 

The  Catbird 98 

The  Belted  Kingfisher loi 

The  Screech  Owl '• 104 

The  Red  Shouldered  and  Red  Tailed  Hawks 108 

The  Swallows  and  the  Chimney  Swift ■  ■  •  ■  112 

The  Hummingbird 120 

The  Red-winged  Blackbird 122 

The  Baltimore  Oriole 125 

The  Crow 129 

The  Cardinal  Grosbeak ^33 

Geese ^3^ 

The  Turkey 143 

The  Study  of  Birds'  Nests  in  Winter i47 

11     Fish  Study 

The  Goldfish    I49 

The  Bullhead I54 

The  Common  Sucker 158 

The  Shiner ■  •  161 

Brook  Trout 164 

The  Stickleback 168 

The  Sunfish 172 

The  Johnny  Darter I77 

///     Batrachian  Study 

The  Common  Toad 181 

The  Tadpole  Aquarium 185 

The  Tree-frog  or  Tree-toad 190 

The  Frog i93 

The  Newt,  Eft  or  Salamander I97 

IV    Reptile  Study 

The  Garter  or  Garden  Snake 201 

The  Milk  Snake,  or  Spotted  Adder 204 

Table  of  Contents  xiii 


The  Water  Snake 206 

The  Turtle io8 

V    Mammal  Study 

The  Cotton-tail  Rabbit 213 

The  Muskrat 218 

The  House  Mouse  224 

The  Woodchuck 229 

The  Red  Squirrel  or  Chickaree 233 

Furry    238 

The  Chipmunk    240 

The  Little  Brown  Bat 243 

The  Skunk 247 

The  Raccoon 250 

The  Wolf 255 

The  Fox 257 

Dogs 261 

The  Cat    268 

The  Goat 275 

The  Sheep 281 

The  Horse 286 

Cattle 295 

The  Pig 303 

VI    Insect  Study 

The  Life  History  of  Insects 308 

The  Structure  of  Insects 312 

The  Black  Swallow-tail  Butterfly 3i5 

The  Monarch  Butterfly 320 

The  Isabella  Tiger  Moth  of  Woolly  Bear . 326 

The  Cecropia 330 

The  Promethea 336 

The  Hummingbird,  or  Sphinx,  Moths 340 

The  Codling  Moth 347 

Leaf-miners 352 

The  Leaf-rollers 357 

The  Gall-dwellers 360 

The  Grasshopper 3^5 

The  Katydid 370 

The  Black  Cricket 373 

The  Snowy  Tree-cricket 377 

The  Cockroach    37^ 

How  to  Make  an  Aquarium  for  Insects 380 

The  Dragon-flies  and  Damsel-flies 3^2 

The  Caddis- worms  and  the  Caddis-flies 3*^7 

The  Aphids  or  Plant  Lice 392 

The  Ant-lion 395 

Mother  Lace- wing  and  the  Aphis-lion 397 

The  Mosquito 400 

The  House-fly 405 

The  Colorado  Potato-beetle 409 

XIV  Handbook  of  Nature-Sttidy 


The  Ladybird 413 

The  Firefly 416 

The  Ways  of  the  Ant 419 

How  to  Make  a  Lubbock  Ant-Nest 423 

The  Ant-Nest  and  What  May  be  Seen  Within  it 425 

The  Mud-dauber 429 

The  Yellow-jacket 432 

The  Leaf -cutter  Bee 436 

The  Little  Carpenter  Bee 439 

The  Bumblebee 442 

The  Honey-bee 445 

The  Honey-comb 451 

Industries  of  the  Hive  and  the  Observation  Hive 453 

VII    Other  Invertebrate-A  nimal  Sttidy 

The  Garden  Snail 458 

The  Earthworm 462 

The  Crayfish ■ 466 

Daddy  Longlegs,  or  Grandfather  Greybeard 472 

Spiders  475 

The  Funnel-web    477 

The  Orb-web 478 

The  Filmy  Dome 483 

Ballooning  Spiders 484 

The  White  Crab-Spider 485 

How  the  Spider  Mothers  Take  Care  of  their  Young 487 


Plant  Life 

How  to  Begin  the  Study  of  Plants  and  Flowers 489 

How  to  Make  Plants  Comfortable 490 

How  to  Teach  the  Names  of  the  Parts  of  a  Flower 492 

Teach  the  Use  of  a  Flower 493 

Flowers  and  Insect  Partners 494 

The  Relation  of  Plants  to  Geography 495 

Seed  Germination 495 

I     Wild-flower  Study 

The  Hepatica 496 

The  Yellow  Adder's  Tongue 499 

Bloodroot : 503 

The  Trillium 506 

Dutchman's  Breeches  and  Squirrel  Corn 509 

Jack-in-the-Pulpit 512 

The  Violet    515 

The  May  Apple  or  Mandrake 519 

The  Bluets 523 

The  Yellow  Lady's  Slipper,  or  Moccasin  Flower 525 

The  Common  Buttercup 528 

The  Evening  Primrose 530 

Table  of  Contents  xv 


The  Hedge  Bindweed 535 

The  Dodder 538 

The  Milkweed 540 

The  White  Water  Lily 545 

Pondweed 54^ 

The  Cat-tail 55i 

A  Type  Lesson  for  a  Composite  Flower 554 

The  Goldenrod 555 

The  Asters 558 

The  White  Daisy 56o 

The  Yellow  Daisy  or  Black-eyed  Susan 562 

The  Thistle 5^3 

The  Burdock 566 

Prickly  Lettuce,  A  Compass  Plant 570 

The  Dandelion 572 

The  Pearly  Everlasting 576 

The  Jewel  weed,  or  Touch-me-not 578 

Mullein 582 

The  Teasel 586 

Queen  Anne's  Lace,  or  Wild  Carrot 589 

Weeds 594 

Outline  for  the  Study  of  a  Weed 595 

//     Cultivated-Plant  Study 

The  Crocus 596 

Daffodils  and  their  Relatives 599 

The  Tulip 603 

The  Pansy 607 

The  Bleeding  Heart 611 

Poppies 613 

The  California  Poppy 616 

The  Nasturtium 620 

The  Bee-Larkspur 623 

The  Blue  Flag,  or  Iris 626 

The  Sunflower 631 

The  Bachelor's  Button 636 

The  Salvia  or  Scarlet  Sage "37 

Petunias ^"^^ 

The  Horseshoe  Geranium "43 

The  Sweet  Pea ^-+9 

The  Clovers ^^^ 

Sweet  Clover ^55 

The  White  Clover ^58 

Maize,  or  Indian  Corn ""^ 

The  Cotton  Plant ^^^ 

The  Strawberry 72 

The  Pumpkin ^75 

///     Flowerless-Plant  Study 

The  Christmas  Fern ^^4 

The  Bracken ^^9 

How  a  Fern  Bud  Unfolds ^91 

XVI  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


The  Fruiting  of  the  Fern 693 

The  Field  Horsetail 699 

The  Hair-cap  Tvloss,  or  Pigeon  Wheat 702 

Mushrooms  and  other  Fungi 7o6 

Puffballs 712 

The  Bracket  Fungi 7i4 

Hedgehog  Fungi 7^7 

The  Scarlet  Saucer 7^8 

The  Morels 7^9 

The  Stinkhorns 720 

Molds 720 

Bacteria  723 

IV    Tree  Study 

How  a  Tree  Grows 726 

How  to  Begin  Tree  Study 73i 

How  to  Make  Leaf  Prints 734 

The  Maples 736 

The  American  Elm 745 

TheOak 748 

The  Shagbark  Hickory 755 

The  Chestnut 757 

The  Horse-Chestnut 76i 

The  Willows 765 

The  Cottonwood  or  Carolina  Poplar 770 

The  White  Ash 774 

TheAppleTree 778 

How  an  Apple  Grows 782 

The  Apple 785 

The  Pine 789 

The  Norway  Spruce 796 

The  Hemlock 801 

The  Flowering  Dogwood 803 

The  Staghorn  Sumac 806 

The  Witch-Hazel 810 

The  Mountain  Laurel ^^3 


Earth  and  Sky 

The  Brook ^^^ 

How  a  Brook  Drops  its  Load 822 

Crystal  Growth  825 

Salt 827 

How  to  Study  Minerals 828 

Quartz ' 829 

Feldspar ^3i 

Mica ^32 

Granite ^33 

Calcite,  marble  and  Limestone 835 

The  Magnet ^38 

The  Soil ^42 

Table  of  Contents  xvii 


Water  Forms 850 

The  Weather 857 

Experiments  to  Show  Air  Pressure 877 

The  Barometer 878 

How  to  read  Weather  Maps 879 

The  Story  of  the  Stars 887 

How  to  Begin  Star  Study 889 

Cassiopeia's  Chair,  Cepheus  and  the  Dragon 893 

The  Winter  Stars 895 

Orion 895 

Aldebaran  and  the  Pleiades 897 

The  Two  Dog-Stars,  Sirius  and  Procyon 898 

Capella  and  the  Heavenly  Twins 900 

The  Stars  of  Summer 901 

The  Sun 9o5 

The  Relation  between  the  Tropic  of  Cancer  and  the  Planting  of  the  Garden 909 

The  Zodiac  and  its  Signs 911 

The  Relations  of  the  Sun  to  the  Earth 913 

How  to  Make  a  Sun-dial 9^5 

The  Moon 9^8 

In  Nature's  infinite  book  of  secrecy 
A  little  can  I  read. 

— Shakespeare. 

PART  1. 



ATURE-STUDY  is,  despite  all  discussions  and  perver- 
sions, a  study  of  nature;  it  consists  of  simple,  truthful 
observations  that  may,  like  beads  on  a  string,  finally  be 
threaded  upon  the  understanding  and  thus  held  together 
as  a  logical  and  harmonious  whole.  Therefore,  the  object 
of  the  nature-study  teacher  should  be  to  cultivate  in  the 

children  powers  of  accurate  observation  and  to  build  up  within  them, 



.p_  IRST,    but  not  most  important,  nature-study  gives  the 

child   practical  and   helpful   knowledge.     It  makes  him 

familiar  with  nature's  ways  and  forces,  so  that  he  is  not 

so   helpless  in  the   presence  of  natural   misfortune  and 

_  disasters. 

Nature-study  cultivates  the  child's  imagination  since  there  are  so 
many  wonderful  and  true  stories  that  he  may  read  with  his  own  eyes, 
which  affect  his  imagination  as  much  as  does  fairy  lore ;  at  the  same  time 
nature-study  cultivates  in  him  a  perception  and  a  regard  for  what  is  true, 
and  the  power  to  express  it.  All  things  seem  possible  in  nature;  yet  this 
seeming  is  always  guarded  by  the  eager  quest  of  what  is  true.  Perhaps, 
half  the  falsehood  in  the  world  is  due  to  lack  of  power  to  detect  the  truth 
and  to  express  it.  Nature-study  aids  both  in  discernment  and  expression 
of  things  as  they  are. 

Nature-study  cultivates  in  the  child  a  love  of  the  beautiful;  it  brings 
to  him  early  a  perception  of  color,  form  and  music.  He  sees  whatever 
there  is  in  his  environment,  whether  it  be  the  thunder-head  piled  up  in  the 
western  sky,  or  the  golden  flash  of  the  oriole  in  the  elm;  whether  it  be  the 
purple  of  the  shadows  on  the  snow,  or  the  azure  glint  on  the  wing  of  the 
little  butterfly.  Also,  what  there  is  of  sound,  he  hears;  he  reads  the 
music  score  of  the  bird  orchestra,  separating  each  part  and  knowing 
which  bird  sings  it.  And  the  patter  of  the  rain,  the  gurgle  of  the  brook, 
the  sighing  of  the  wind  in  the  pine,  he  notes  and  loves  and  becomes  en- 
riched thereby. 

But,  more  than  all,  nature-study  gives  the  child  a  sense  of  companion- 
ship with  life  out  of  doors  and  an  abiding  love  of  nature ._  Let  this  latter 
be  the  teacher's  criterion  for  judging  his  or  her  work.  If  nature-study  as 
taught  does  not  make  the  child  love  nature  and  the  out-of-doors,  then  it 
should  cease.  Let  us  not  inflict  permanent  injury  on  the  child  by  turning 
him  away  from  nature  instead  of  toward  it.  However,  if  the  love  of 
nature  is  in  the  teacher's  heart,  there  is  no  danger;    such  a  teacher,  no 

2  Handbook  of  Nature -Study 

matter  by  what  method,  takes  the  child  gently  by  the  hand  and  walks 
with  him  in  paths  that  lead  to  the  seeing  and  comprehending  of  what  he 
may  find  beneath  his  feet  or  above  his  head.  And  these  paths  whether 
they  lead  among  the  lowliest  plants,  or  whether  to  the  stars,  finally  con- 
verge and  bring  the  wanderer  to  that  serene  peace  and  hopeful  faith  that 
is  the  sure  inheritance  of  all  those  who  realize  fully  that  they  are 
working  units  of  this  wonderful  universe. 


ERHAPS  the  most  valuable  practical  lesson  the  child  gets 
from  nature-study  is  a  personal  knowledge  that  nature's 
laws  are  not  to  be  evaded.     Wherever  he  looks,  he  dis- 
covers that  attempts  at  such  evasion  result  in  suffering 
and  death.     A  knowledge  thus  naturally  attained  of  the 
immutability  of  nature's  "must"  and  "shall  not"  is  in 
itself  a  moral  education.     That  the  fool  as  well  as  the  transgressor  fares 
ill  in  breaking  natural  laws,  makes  for  wisdom  in  morals  as  well  as  in 

Out-of-door  life  takes  the  child  afield  and  keeps  him  in  the  open  air, 
which  not  only  helps  him  physically  and  occupies  his  mind  with  sane 
:-.ubjects,  but  keeps  him  out  of  mischief.  It  is  not  only  during  childhood 
that  this  is  true,  for  love  of  nature  counts  much  for  sanity  in  later  life. 
This  is  an  age  of  nerve  tension,  and  the  relaxation  which  comes  from  the 
comforting  companionship  found  in  woods  and  fields  is,  without  doubt, 
the  best  remedy  for  this  condition.  Too  many  men  who  seek  the  out-of- 
doors  for  rest  at  the  present  time,  can  only  find  it  with  a  gun  in  hand.  To 
rest  and  heal  their  nerves  they  must  go  out  and  try  to  kill  some  unfor- 
tunate creature, — the  old,  old  story  of  sacrificial  blood.  Far  better  will  it 
be  when,  through  properly  training  the  child,  the  man  shall  be  enabled  to 
enjoy  nature  through  seeing  how  creatures  live  rather  than  watching 
them  die.  It  is  the  sacred  privilege  of  nature-study  to  do  this  for  future 
generations  and  for  him  thus  trained,  shall  the  words  of  Longfellow's 
poem  to  Agassiz  apply : 

"And  he  wandered  away  and  away,  with  Nature  the  dear  old  nurse, 
Who  sang  to  hint  nigltt  and  day,  the  rhymes  of  the  tinivcrse. 
And  when  the  way  seemed  long,  and  his  heart  began  to  fail, 
She  sang  a  more  wonderful  song,  or  told  a  more  wonderful  tale." 


^URING  many  years,  I  have  been  watching  teachers  in  our 
public  schools  in  their  conscientious  and  ceaseless  work; 
and  so  far  as  I  can  foretell,  the  fate  that  awaits  them 
finally  is  either  nerve  exhaustion  or  nerve  atrophy. 
The  teacher  must  become  either  a  neurasthenic  or  a 

I  have  had  conversations  with  hundreds  of  teachers  in  the  public 
schools  of  New  York  State  concerning  the  introduction  of  nature-study 
into  the  curriculum,  and  most  of  them  declared,  "Oh,  we  have  not  time 
for  it.  Every  moment  is  full  now!"  Their  nerves  were  at  such  a  tension 
that  with  one  more  thing  to  do  they  must  fall  apart.  The  question  in 
my  own  mind  during  these  conversations  was  always,  how  long  can  she 

The  Teaching  of  Nature-Study  3 

stand  it!  I  asked  some  of  them  "Did  you  ever  try  a  vigorous  walk  in  the 
open  air  in  the  open  country  every  Saturday  or  every  Sunday  of  your 
teaching  year?"  "Oh  no!"  they  exclaimed  in  despair  of  making  me 
understand,  "On  Sunday  we  must  go  to  church  or  see  our  friends  and  on 
Saturday  we  must  do  our  shopping  or  our  sewing.  We  must  go  to  the 
dressmaker's  lest  we  go  unclad,  we  must  mend,  and  dam  stockings;  we 
need  Saturday  to  catch  up." 

Yes,  catch  up  with  more  cares,  more  worries,  more  fatigue,  but  not 
with  more  growth,  more  strength,  more  vigor  and  more  courage  for  work. 
In  my  belief,  there  are  two  and  only  two  occupations  for  Saturday  after- 
noon or  forenoon  for  a  teacher.  One  is  to  be  out  of  doors  and  the  other  is 
to  lie  in  bed,  and  the  first  is  best.  Out  in  this,  God's  beautiful  world, 
there  is  everything  waiting  to  heal  lacerated  nerves,  to  strengthen  tired 
muscles,  to  please  and  content  the  soul  that  is  torn  to  shreds  with  duty 
and  care.  To  the  teacher  who  turns  to  nature's  healing,  nature-study  in 
the  schoolroom  is  not  a  trouble;  it  is  a  sweet,  fresh  breath  of  air  blown 
across  the  heat  of  radiators  and  the  noisome  odor  of  over-crowded  small 
humanity.  She,  who  opens  her  eyes  and  her  heart  nature-ward  even  once 
a  week,  finds  nature-study  in  the  schoolroom  a  delight  and  an  abiding  joy. 
What  does  such  a  one  find  in  her  schoolroom  instead  of  the  terrors  of 
discipline,  the  eternal  watching  and  eternal  nagging  to  keep  the  pupils 
quiet  and  at  work?  She  finds,  first  of  all,  companionship  with  her 
children;  and  second,  she  finds  that  without  planning  or  going  on  a  far 
voyage,  she  has  found  health  and  strength. 

WHEN    AND    WHY   THE    TEACHER   SHOULD    SAY    "l    DO    NOT   KNOw" 

O  SCIENCE  professor  in  any  university,  if  he  be  a  man  of 
high  attainment,  hesitates  to  say  to  his  pupils  "  I  do 
not  know,"  if  they  ask  for  information  beyond  his 
knowledge.  The  greater  his  scientific  reputation  and 
_  erudition,  the  more  readily,  simply  and  without  apology 
he  says  this.  He,  better  than  others,  comprehends  how 
vast  is  the  region  that  lies  beyond  man's  present  knowledge.  It  is 
only  the  teacher  in  the  elementary  schools  who  has  never  received 
enough  scientific  training  to  reveal  to  her  how  little  she  does  know,  who 
feels  that  she  must  appear  to  know  everything  or  her  pupils  will  lose 
confidence  in  her.  But  how  useless  is  this  pretence,  in  nature-study  ! 
The  pupils,  whose  younger  eyes  are  much  keener  for  details  than  hers, 
will  soon  discover  her  limitations  and  then  their  distrust  of  her  will  be 

In  nature-study  any  teacher  can  with  honor  say,  "I  do  not  know;"  for 
perhaps,  the  question  asked  is  as  yet  unanswered  by  the  great  scientists. 
But  she  should  not  let  her  lack  of  knowledge  be  a  wet  blanket  thrown  over 
her  pupils'  interest.  She  should  say  frankly,  "I  do  not  know;  let  us  see 
if  we  cannot  together  find  out  this  mysterious  thing.  Maybe  no  one 
knows  it  as  yet,  and  I  wonder  if  you  will  discover  it  before  I  do."  She 
thus  conveys  the  right  impression,  that  only  a  little  about  the  intricate 
life  of  plants  and  animals  is  yet  known ;  and  at  the  same  time  she  makes 
her  pupils  feel  the  thrill  and  zest  of  investigation.  Nor  will  she  lose  their 
respect  by  doing  this,  if  she  does  it  in  the  right  spirit.  For  three  years,  I 
had  for  comrades  in  my  walks  afield,  two  little  children  and  they  kept  me 

4  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

busy  saying,  "Idonotknow".  But  they  never  lost  confidence  inmeorin 
my  knowledge;  they  simply  gained  respect  for  the  vastness  of  the  un- 

The  chief  charm  of  nature-study  would  be  taken  away  if  it  did  not  lead 
us  through  the  border-land  of  knowledge  into  the  realm  of  the  undiscovered. 
Moreover,  the  teacher,  in  confessing  her  ignorance  and  at  the  same  time 
her  interest  in  a  subject,  establishes  between  herself  and  her  pupils  a  sense 
of  companionship  which  relieves  the  strain  of  discipline,  and  gives  her  a 
new  and  intimate  relation  with  her  pupils  which  will  surely  prove  a 
potent  element  in  her  success.  The  best  teacher  is  always  one  who  is  the 
good  comrade  of  her  pupils. 


HE  old  teacher  is  too  likely  to  become  didactic,  dogmatic 
and  "bossy"  if  she  does  not  constantly  strive  with  herself. 
Why?  She  has  to  be  thus  five  days  in  the  week  and, 
therefore,  she  is  likely  to  be  so  seven.  She  knows  arith- 
metic, grammar  and  geography  to  their  uttermost  and 
she  is  never  allowed  to  forget  that  she  knows  them, 
and  finally  her  interests  become  limited  to  what  she  knows. 

After  all,  what  is  the  chief  sign  of  growing  old?  Is  it  not  the  feeling 
that  we  know  all  there  is  to  be  known  ?  It  is  not  years  which  make  people 
old;  it  is  ruts,  and  a  Umitation  of  interests.  When  we  no  longer  care 
about  anything  except  our  own  interests,  we  are  then  old,  it  matters  not 
whether  our  years  be  twenty  or  eighty.  It  is  rejuvenation  for  the 
teacher,  thus  growing  old,  to  stand  ignorant  as  a  child  in  the  presence  of 
one  of  the  simplest  of  nature's  miracles — the  formation  of  a  crystal,  the 
evolution  of  the  butterfly  from  the  caterpillar,  the  exquisite  adjustment 
of  the  silken  lines  in  the  spider's  orb-web.  I  know  how  to  "make  magic" 
for  the  teacher  who  is  growing  old.  Let  her  go  out  with  her  youngest 
pupil  and  fall  on  her  knees  before  the  miracle  of  the  blossoming  violet  and 
say:  "Dear  Nature,  I  know  naught  of  the  wondrous  life  of  these,  your 
smallest  creatures.     Teach  me !"  and  she  will  suddenly  find  herself  young. 




iiSuCH  of  the  naughtiness  in  school  is  a  result  of  the  child's 
lack  of  interest  in  his  work,  augmented  by  the  physical 
_^  inaction  that  results  from  an  attempt  to  sit  quietly.  The 
^  best  teachers  try  to  obviate  both  of  these  rather  than  to 
punish  because  of  them.  Nature-study  is  an  aid  in  both 
respects,  since  it  keeps  the  child  interested  and  also  gives  him  something 
to  do. 

In  the  nearest  approach  to  an  ideal  school  that  I  have  ever  seen,  for 
children  of  second  grade,  the  pupils  were  allowed,  as  a  reward  of  merit,  to 
visit  the  aquaria  or  the  terrarium  for  periods  of  five  minutes,  which  time 
was  given  to  the  bUssful  observation  of  the  fascinating  prisoners.  _  The 
teacher  also  allowed  the  reading  of  stories  about  the  plants  and  animals 
under  observation  to  be  regarded  as  a  reward  of  merit.  As  I  entered  the 
schoolroom,  there  were  eight  or  ten  of  the  children  at  the  windows  watch- 
ing eagerly  what  was  happening  to  the  creatures  confined  there  in  the 
various  cages.     There  was  a  mud  aquarium  for  the  frogs  and  salamanders, 

The  Teaching  of  Nature -Study  5 

an  aquarium  for  fish,  many  small  aquaria  for  insects  and  each  had  one  or 
two  absorbingly  interested  spectators  who  were  quiet,  well  behaved  and 
were  getting  their  nature-study  lessons  in  an  ideal  manner.  The  teacher 
told  me  that  the  problem  of  discipline  was  solved  by  this  method,  and 
that  she  was  rarely  obliged  to  rebuke  or  punish.  In  many  other  schools, 
watching  the  living  creatures  in  the  aquaria,  or  terrarium  has  been  used 
as  a  reward  for  other  work  well  done. 


.  ^ATURE-STUDY  is  not  elementary  science  as  so  taught, 
C^^  because  its  point  of  attack  is  not  the  same;  error  in  this 
1 1 1/'  respect  has  caused  many  a  teacher  to  abandon  nature- 
i'/L  study  and  many  a  pupil  to  hate  it.  In  elementary  science 
jfW\  the  work  begins  with  the  simplest  animals  and  plants 
l'l;S  and  progresses  logically  through  to  the  highest  forms;  at 
least  this  is  the  method  pursued  in  most  universities  and 
schools.  The  object  of  the  study  is  to  give  the  pupils  an  outlook  over 
all  the  forms  of  life  and  their  relation  one  to  another.  In  nature-study 
the  work  begins  with  any  plant  or  creature  which  chances  to  interest  the 
pupil.  It  begins  with  the  robin  when  it  comes  back  to  us  in  March, 
promising  spring;  or  it  begins  with  the  maple  leaf  which  flutters  to  the 
ground  in  all  the  beauty  of  its  autumnal  tints.  A  course  in  biological 
science  leads  to  the  comprehension  of  all  kinds  of  life  upon  our  globe. 
Nature-study  is  for  the  comprehension  of  the  individual  life  of  the 
bird,  insect  or  plant  that  is  nearest  at  hand. 

Nature-study  is  perfectly  good  science  within  its  limits,  butit  is  not 
meant  to  be  more  profound  or  comprehensive  than  the  capabilities  of  the 
child's  mind.  More  than  all,  nature-study  is  not  science  belittled  as  if 
it  were  to  be  looked  at  through  the  reversed  opera  glass  in  order  to  bring 
it  down  small  enough  for  the  child  to  play  with.  Nature-study,  as  far  as 
it  goes,  is  just  as  large  as  is  science  for  "grown-ups"  and  may  deal  with  the 
same  subject  matter  and  should  be  characterized  by  the  same  accuracy. 
It  simply  does  not  go  so  far. 

To  illustrate :  If  we  are  teaching  the  science  of  ornithology,  we  take 
first  the  Archaeopteryx,  then  the  swimming  and  the  scratching  birds  and 
finally  reach  the  song  birds,  studying  each  as  a  part  of  the  whole.  Nature- 
study  begins  with  the  robin  because  the  child  sees  it  and  is  interested  in  it 
and  he  notes  the  things  about  the  habits  and  appearance  of  the  robin  that 
may  be  perceived  by  intimate  observation.  In  fact,  he  discovers  for  him- 
self all  that  the  most  advanced  book  of  ornithology  would  give  concerning 
the  ordinary  habits  of  this  one  bird;  the  next  bird  studied  may  be  the 
turkey  in  the  barnyard,  or  the  duck  on  the  pond,  or  the  screech-owl  in  the 
spruces,  if  any  of  these  happen  to  impinge  upon  his  notice  and  interest. 
However,  such  nature-study  makes  for  the  best  of  scientific  ornithology, 
because  by  studying  the  individual  birds  thus  thoroughly,  the  pupil 
finally  studies  a  sufficient  number  of  forms  so  that  his  knowledge,  thus 
assembled,  gives  him  a  better  comprehension  of  birds  as  a  whole  than 
could  be  obtained  by  the  routine  study  of  the  same.  Nature-study  does 
not  start  out  with  the  classification  given  in  books,  but  in  the  end  it  builds 
■up  a  classification  in  the  child's  mind  which  is  based  on  fundamental 
knowledge ;  it  is  a  classification  like  that  evolved  by  the  first  naturalists, 
jt  is  built  on  careful  personal  observations  of  both  form  and  life. 

Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


If  nature-study  is  made  a  drill,  its  pedagogic  value  is  lost.  When  it 
is  properly  taught,  the  child  is  unconscious  of  mental  effort  or  that  he 
is  suffering  the  act  of  teaching.  As  soon  as  nature-study  becomes  a 
task,  it  should  be  dropped;  but  how  could  it  ever  be  a  task  to  see  that 
the  sky  is  blue,  or  the  dandelion  golden,  or  to  listen  to  the  oriole  in  the 


HAT  to  do  with  the  pupil  not  interested  in  nat- 
ure-study subjects  is  a  problem  that  confronts 
many  earnest  teachers.  Usually  the  reason  for 
this  lack  of  interest,  is  the  limited  range  of  sub- 
jects used  for  nature-study  lessons.  Often  the 
teacher  insists  upon  flowers  as  the  lesson 
subject,  when  toads  or  snakes  would  prove 
the  key  to  the  door  of  the  child's  interest. 
But  whatever  the  cause  may  be,  there  is  only 
one  right  way  out  of  this  difficulty :  The  child 
not  interested  should  be  kept  at  his  regular 
school  work  and  not  admitted  as  a  member 
of  the  nature-study  class,  where  his  influence 
is  always  demoralizing.  He  had  much  bet- 
ter be  learning  his  spelling  lesson  than  learn- 
ing to  hate  nature  through  being  obliged  to 
study  subjects  in  which  he  is  not  interested.  In  general,  it  is  safe  to 
assume  that  the  pupil's  lack  of  interest  in  nature-study  is  owing  to  a  fault 
in  the  teacher's  method.  She  may  be  trying  to  fill  the  child's  mind 
with  facts  when  she  should  be  leading  him  to  observe  these  for  himself, 
which  is  a  most  entertaining  occupation  for  the  child.  It  should  always 
be  borne  in  mind  that  mere  curiosity  is  always  impertinent,  and  that  it 
is  never  more  so  than  when  exercised  in  the  realm  of  nature.  A  genuine 
interest  should  be  the  basis  of  the  study  of  the  lives  of  plants  and  lower 
animals.  Curiosity  may  elicit  facts,  but  only  real  interest  may  mold  these 
facts  into  wisdom. 


HERE  are  two  theories  concerning  the  time  when  a  nature- 
study  lesson  should  be  given.  Some  teachers  believe 
that  it  should  be  a  part  of  the  regular  routine;  others 
have  found  it  of  greatest  value  if  reserved  for  that  period 
of  the  school  day  when  the  pupils  are  weary  and  restless, 
and  the  teacher's  nerves  strained  to  the  snapping  point. 
The  lesson  on  a  tree,  insect  or  flower  at  such  a  moment  affords  immedi- 
ate relief  to  everyone;  it  is  a  mental  excursion,  from  which  all  return 
refreshed  and  ready  to  finish  the  duties  of  the  day. 

While  I  am  convinced  that  the  use  of  the  nature-study  lesson  for 
mental  refreshment  makes  it  of  greatest  value,  yet  I  realize  fully  that  if  it 
is  relegated  to  such  periods,  it  may  not  be  given  at  all.  It  might  be 
better  to  give  it  a  regular  period  late  in  the  day,  for  there  is  strength  and 
sureness  in  regularity.  The  teacher  is  much  more  likely  to  prepare  her- 
self for  the  lesson,  if  she  knows  that  it  is  required  at  a  certain  time. 

The  Teaching  of  Nature-Study 


HE  nature-study  lesson  should  be  short  and  sharp  and  may 
vary  from  ten  minutes  to  a  half  hour  in  length.  There 
should  be  no  dawdling;  if  it  is  an  observation  lesson,  only 
a  few  points  should  be  noted  and  the  meaning  for  the  ob- 
servations made  clear.  If  an  outline  be  suggested  for 
field  observation,  it  should  be  given  in  an  inspiring  man- 
ner which  shall  make  each  pupil  anxious  to  see  and  read  the  truth  for 
himself.  The  nature  story  when  properly  read  is  never  finished;  it  is 
always  at  an  interesting  point,  "continued  in  our  next." 

The  teacher  may  judge  as  to  her  own  progress  in  nature-study  by  the 
length  of  time  she  is  glad  to  spend  in  reading  from  nature's  book  what  is 
therein  written.  As  she  progresses,  she  finds  those  hours  spent  in  study- 
ing nature  speed  faster,  until  a  day  thus  spent  seems  but  an  hour.  The 
author  can  think  of  nothing  she  would  so  gladly  do  as  to  spend  days  and 
months  with  the  birds,  bees  and  flowers  with  no  obligation  for  telling 
what  she  should  see.  There  is  more  than  mere  information  in  hours  thus 
spent.     Lowei)  describes  them  well  when  he  says: 

"  Those  old  iays  when  the  balancing  of  a  yellow  butterfly  o'er  a  thistle  bloom 
Was  spiritual  food  and  lodging  for  the  whole  afternoon." 


A  nature-study  lesson  should  not  be  repeated  unless  the  pupils 
demand  it.  It  should  be  done  so  well  the  first  time  that  there  is  no  need 
of  repetition,  because  it  has  thus  become  a  part  of  the  child's  conscious- 
ness. The  repetition  of  the  same  lesson  in  different  grades  was,  to  begin 
with,  a  hopeless  incubus  upon  nature-study.  One  disgusted  boy  declared, 
"Darn  germination !  I  had  it  in  the  primary  and  last  year  and  now  I  am 
having  it  again.  I  know  all  about  germination."  The  boy's  attitude  was 
a  just  one;  but  if  there  had  been  revealed  to  him  the  meaning  of  germina- 
tion, instead  of  the  mere  process,  he  would  have  reahzed  that  until  he  had 
planted  and  observed  every  plant  in  the  world  he  would  not  know  all 
about  germination,  because  each  seedling  has  its  own  interesting  story. 
The  only  excuse  for  repeating  a  nature-study  lesson  is  in  recalling  it  for 
comparison  and  contrast  with  other  lessons.  The  study  of  the  violet  will 
naturally  bring  about  a  review  of  the  pansy;  the  dandelion,  of  the  sun- 
flowei-;  the  horse,  of  the  donkey;  the  butterfly,  of  the  moth. 


■^HE  object  lesson  method  was  introduced  to  drill  the  child 
to  see  a  thing  accurately,  not  only  as  a  whole,  but  in 
detail  and  to  describe  accurately  what  he  saw.  A  book 
or  a  vase  or  some  other  object  was  held  up  before  the  class 
for  a  moment  and  then  removed;  aftenvards  the  pupils 
described  it  as  perfectly  as  possible.  This  is  an  excellent 
exercise  and  the  children  usually  enjoy  it  as  if  it  were  a 
game.  But  if  the  teacher  has  in  mind  the  same  thought  when  she  is  giv- 
ing the  nature-study  lesson,  she  has  little  comprehension  of  the  meaning 
of  the  latter  and  the  pupils  will  have  less.  In  nature-study,  it  is  not  de- 
sirable that  the  child  see  all  the  details,  but  rather  those  details  that  have 
something  to  do  with  the  life  of  the  creature  studied;  if  he  sees  that  the 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

grasshopper  has  the  hind  legs  much  longer  than  the  others,  he  wiUmev- 
itably  note  that  there  are  two  other  pairs  of  legs  and  he  will  in  the 
meantime  have  come  into  an  illuminating  comprehension  of  the  reason 
the  insect  is  called  "grasshopper."  The  child  should  see  definitely  and 
accurately  all  that  is  necessary  for  the  recognition  of  a  plant  or  animal; 
but  in  nature-study,  the  observation  of  form  is  for  the  purpose  of  better 
understanding  life.     In  fact,  it  is  form  linked  with  life,  the  relation  of 


to  "doing." 


ANY  subjects  for  nature-study  lessons  may  be  brought 
into  the  schoolroom.  Whenever  it  is  possible,  the  pupils 
should  themselves  bring  the  material,  as  the  collecting 
of  it  is  an  important  part  of  the  lesson.  There  should 
be  in  the  schoolroom  conveniences  for  caring  for  the 

little  prisoners  brought  in  from  thefield.     The  terrarium 
and  breeding   cages,  of  different  kinds  should  be  pro- 
vided for  the  insects,  toads  and  little  mammals.     Here  they  may  live 
in  comfort,  when  given  their  natural  food,  while  the  children  observe 
their  interesting  ways.     The  ants'  nest,  and  the  observation  hive  yield 
fascmating  views  of  the  marvelous  lives  of  the  insect  socialists,  while  the 
cheerful  prisoner  in  the  bird  cage  may  be  made  a  constant  illustration  of 
the  adaptations  and  habits  of  all  birds.     The  aquaria  for  fishes,  tadpoles 
and  insects  afford  the  opportunity  for  continuous  study  of  these  water 
creatures  and  are  a  never-failing  source  of  interest  to  the  pupils,  while 
the  window  garden  may  be  made  not  only  an  ornament  and  an  aesthetic 
dehght,  but  a  basis  for  interesting  study  of  plant  growth  and  development. 
A^schoolroom  thus  equipped  is  a  place  of  delight  as  well  as  enlighten- 
ment to  the  children.     Once,  a  boy  whose  luxurious  home  was  filled  with 
all  that  money  could  buy  and  educated  tastes  select,  said  of  a  little  nature- 
study  laboratory  which  was  in  the  unfinished  attic  of  a  school  building,  but 
which  was  teeming  with  life :     "I  think  this  is  the  most  beautiful  room  in 
the  world." 


HE  matter  of  museum  specimens  is  another  question  for 
the  nature-study  teacher  to  solve,  and  has  a  direct 
bearing  on  an  attitude  toward  taking  life.  There  are 
many  who  beheve  the  stuffed  bird  or  the  case  of  pinned 
insects  have  no  place  in  nature-study;  and  certainly 
these  should  not  be  the  chief  material.  But  let  us  use 
our  common  sense;  the  boy  sees  a  bird  in  the  woods  or 
field  and  does  not  know  its  name ;  he  seeks  the  bird  in  the  museum  and 
thus  is  able  to  place  it  and  read  about  it  and  is  stimulated  to  make  other 
observations  concerning  it.  Wherever  the  museum  is  a  help  to  the  study 
of  life  in  the  field,  it  is  well  and  good.  Some  teachers  may  give  alive  les- 
son from  a  stuffed  specimen,  and  other  teachers  may  stuff  their  pupils 
with  facts  about  a  live  specimen;  of  the  two,  the  former  is  preferable. 

There  is  no  question  that  making  a  collection  of  insects  is  an 
efficient  way  of  developing  the  child's  powers  of  close  observation,  as  wejl 
as  of  giving  him  manual  dexterity  in  handling  fragile  things.  Also  it  is 
a  false  sentiment  which  attributes  to  an  insect  the  same  agony  at  being 

The  Teaching  of  Nature-Study  9 

impaled  on  a  pin  that  we  might  suffer  at  being  thrust  through  by  a  stake. 
The  insect  nervous  system  is  far  more  conveniently  arranged  for  such  an 
ordeal  than  ours;  and,  too,  the  cyanide  bottle  brings  immediate  and  pain- 
less death  to  the  insects  placed  within  it;  moreover,  the  insects  usually 
collected  have  short  lives  anyway.  So  far  as  the  child  is  concerned,  he  is 
thinking  of  his  collection  of  moths  or  butterflies  and  not  at  all  of  taking 
life;  so  it  is  not  teaching  him  to  wantonly  destroy  living  creatures. 
However,  an  indiscriminate  encouragement  of  the  making  of  insect  col- 
lections cannot  be  advised.  There  are  some  children  who  will  profit  by  it 
and  some  who  will  not,  and  unquestionably  the  best  kind  of  study  of 
insects  is  watching  their  interesting  ways  while  they  live. 

To  kill  a  creature  in  order  to  prepare  it  for  a  nature-study  lesson  is  not 
only  wrong  but  absurd,  for  nature-study  has  to  do  with  life  rather  than 
death,  and  the  form  of  any  creature  is  interesting  only  when  its  adapta- 
tions for  life  are  studied.  But  again,  a  nature-study  teacher  may  be  an 
opportunist;  if  without  any  volition  on  her  part  or  the  pupils',  a  freshly 
killed  specimen  comes  to  hand,  she  should  make  the  most  of  it.  The 
writer  remembers  most  illuminating  lessc>ns  from  a  partridge  that  broke 
a  window  and  its  neck  simultaneously  during  its  flight  one  winter  night, 
a  yellow  hammer  that  killed  itself  against  an  electric  wire,  and  a  muskrat 
that  turned  its  toes  to  the  skies  for  no  understandable  reason.  In  each  of 
these  cases  the  creature's  special  physical  adaptations  for  living  its  own 
peculiar  life  were  studied,  and  the  effect  was  not  the  study  of  a  dead 
thing,  but  of  a  successful  and  wonderful  life. 


N  elementary  grades,  nature-study  deals  with  objects  which 
the  children  can  see  with  the  naked  eye.  However,  a  lens 
is  a  help  in  almost  all  of  this  work  because  it  is  such  a  joy 
to  the  child  to  gaze  at  the  wonders  it  reveals.  There  is  no 
lesson  given  in  this  book  which  requires  more  than  a  simple 
lens  for  seeing  the  most  minute  parts  discussed.  An  ex- 
cellent lens  may  be  bought  for  a  dollar,  and  a  fairly  good  one  for  fifty 
cents  or  even  twenty-five  cents.  The  lens  should  be  chained  to  a  table 
or  desk  where  it  may  be  used  by  the  pupils  at  recess.  This  gives  each 
an  opportunity  for  using  it  and  obviates  the  danger  of  losing  it.  If 
the  pupils  themselves  own  lenses,  they  should  be  fastened  by  a  string  or 
chain  to  the  pocket. 

A  microscope  has  no  legitimate  part  in  nature-study.  But  if  there  is 
one  available,  it  reveals  so  many  wonders  in  the  commonest  objects,  that 
it  can  be  made  a  source  of  added  interest  ofttimcs.  For  instance,  to  thus 
see  the  scales  on  the  butterfly's  wing  affords  the  child  pleasure  as  well  as 
edification.  Field  or  opera  glasses,  while  indispensible  for  bird  study,  are 
by  no  means  necessary  in  nature-study.  However,  the  pupils  will  show 
greater  interest  in  noting  the  birds'  colors  if  they  are  allowed  to  make  the 
observations  with  the  help  of  a  glass. 


Handbook  of  N ature-Study 



ICTURES  alone  should  never  be  used  as  the  subjects  for 
nature-study  lessons,  but  they  may  be  of  great  use  in 
illustrating  and  illuminating  a  lesson.  Books  well  illus- 
trated are  more  readily  comprehended  by  the  child  and 
are  often  very  helpful  to  him,  especially  after  his  interest 
in  the  subject  is  thoroughly  aroused.  If  charts  are  used 
to  illustrate  the  lesson,  the  child  is  likely  to  be  misled  by  the  size  of  the 
drawing,  which  is  also  the  case  in  blackboard  pictures.  However,  this 
error  may  be  avoided  by  fixing  the  attention  of  the  pupil  on  the  object 
first.  If  the  pupils  are  studying  the  ladybird  and  have  it  in  their  hands, 
the  teacher  may  use  a  diagram  representing  the  beetle  as  a  foot  long  and 
it  will  still  convey  the  idea  accurately;  but  if  she  begins  with  the  pict- 
ure, she  probably  can  never  convince  the  children  that  the  picture  has 
anything  to  do  with  the  insect. 

In  making  blackboard  drawings  illustrative  of  the  lesson,  it  is  best,  if 
possible,  to  have  one  of  the  pupils  do  the  drawing  in  the  presence  of  the 
class;  or,  if  the  teacher  does  the  drawing,  she  should  hold  the  object  in 
her  hand  while  doing  it  and  look  at  it  often  so  that  the  children  may 
see  that  she  is  trying  to  represent  it  accurately.  Taking  everything  into 
consideration,  however,  nature-study  charts  and  blackboard  drawings  are 
of  little  use  to  the  nature-study  teacher. 


ISQUIETING  problems  relative  to  scientific  nomenclature 
always  confront  the  teacher  of  nature-study  My  own 
practice  has  been  to  use  the  popular  names  of  species, 
except  in  cases  where  confusion  might  ensue,  and  to  use 
the  scientific  names  for  anatomical  parts.  However, 
this  matter  is  of  little  importance  if  the  teacher  bears  in 
mind  that  the  purpose  of  nature-study  is  to  know  the  subject  under  obser- 
vation and  to  learn  the  name  incidentally. 

If  the  teacher  says:  "I  have  a  pink  hepatica.  Can  anyone  find  me  a 
blue  one?"  the  children,  who  naturally  like  grown-up  words,  will  soon  be 
calling  these  flowers  hepaticas.  But  if  the  teacher  says,  "These  flowers 
are  called  hepaticas.  Now  please  everyone  remember  the  name.  Write 
it  in  your  books  as  I  write  it  on  the  blackboard,  and  in  half  an  hour  I  shall 
ask  you  again  what  it  is,"  the  pupils  naturally  look  upon  the  exercise  as  a 
word  lesson  and  its  real  significance  is  lost.  This  sort  of  nature-study  is 
dust  and  ashes  and  there  has  been  too  much  of  it.  The  child  should  never 
be  required  to  learn  the  name  of  anything  in  the  nature-study  work;  but 
the  name  should  be  used  so  often  and  so  naturally  in  his  presence,  that 
he  will  learn  it  without  being  conscious  of  the  process. 


^  ANY  of  the  subjects  for  nature  lessons  can  be  studied  only 
in  part,  since  but  one  phase  may  be  available  at  the 
time.  Often,  especially  if  there  is  little  probability  that 
the  pupils  will  find  opportunity  to  complete  the  study,  it 
is  best  to  round  out  their  knowledge  by  reading  or  telHng 
the  story  to  supplement  the  facts  which  they  have  disco v- 

The  Teaching  of  Nature-Stiidy  ii 

ered  for  themselves.  This  story  should  not  be  told  as  a  finality  or  as  a 
complete  picture  but  as  a  guide  and  inspiration  for  further  study.  Always 
leave  at  the  end  of  the  story  an  interrogation  mark  that  will  remain  ag- 
gressive and  insistent  in  the  child's  mind.  To  illustrate:  Once  a  club 
of  junior  naturalists  brought  me  rose  leaves  injured  by  the  leaf-cutter 
bee  and  asked  me  why  the  leaves  were  cut  out  so  regularly.  I  told 
them  the  story  of  the  use  made  by  the  mother  bee  of  these  oval  and  cir- 
cular bits  of  leaves  and  made  the  account  as  vital  as  I  was  able;  but  at 
the  end  I  said,  "I  do  not  know  which  species  of  bee  cut  these  leaves. 
She  is  living  here  among  us  and  building  her  nest  with  your  rose  leaves 
which  she  is  cutting  every  day  almost  under  your  very  eyes.  Is  she 
then  so  much  more  clever  than  you  that  you  cannot  see  her  nor  find  her 
nest?"  For  two  years  following  this  lesson  I  received  letters  from  mem- 
bers of  this  club.  Two  carpenter  bees  and  their  nests  were  discovered  by 
them  and  studied  before  the  mysterious  leaf-cutter  was  finally  ferreted 
out.  My  stor}^  had  left  something  interesting  for  the  young  naturalists 
to  discover.  The  children  should  be  impressed  with  "the  fact  that  the 
nature  story  is  never  finished.  There  is  not  a  weed  nor  an  insect  nor  a 
tree  so  common  that  the  child,  by  observing  carefully,  may  not  see  things 
never  yet  recorded  in  scientific  books;  therefore  the  supplementary  story 
should  be  made  an  inspiration  for  keener  interest  and  further  investi- 
gation on  the  part  of  the  pupil.  The  supplementary  story  simply  thrusts 
aside  some  of  the  obscuring  underbrush  thus  revealing  more  plainly  the 
path  to  further  knowledge. 


ERHAPS  no  greater  danger  besets  the  pathway  of  the 
nature-study  teacher  than  the  question  involved  in  her 
pupils'  attitude  toward  life  and  death.  To  inculcate  in 
the  child  a  reverence  for  life  and  yet  to  keep  him  from 
becoming  mawkish  and  morbid  is  truly  a  problem.  It 
is  almost  inevitable  that  the  child  should  become  sym- 
pathetic with  the  life  of  the  animal  or  plant  studied, 
since  a  true  understanding  of  the  life  of  any  creature 
creates  an  interest  which  stimulates  a  desire  to  protect  this  particular 
creature  and  make  its  life  less  hard.  Many  times,  within  my  own  ex- 
perience, have  I  known  boys,  who  began  by  robbing  birds'  nests  for  egg 
collections,  to  end  by  becoming  most  zealous  protectors  of  the  birds. 
The  humane  qualities  within  these  boys  budded  and  blossomed  in  the 
growing  knowledge  of  the  lives  of  the  birds.  At  Cornell  University,  it  is 
a  well  known  fact  that  those  students  who  turn  aside  so  as  not  to  crush 
the  ant,  caterpillar  or  cricket  on  the  pavement  are  almost  invariably 
those  that  are  studying  entomology;  and  in  America  it  is  the  botanists 
themselves  who  are  leading  the  crusade  for  flower  protection. 

Thus,  the  nature-study  teacher,  if  she  does  her  work  well,  is  a  sure  aid 
in  inculcating  a  respect  for  the  rights  of  all  living  beings  to  their  own  lives; 
and  she  needs  only  to  lend  her  influence  gently  in  this  direction  to  change 
carelessness  to  thoughtfulness  and  cruelty  to  kindness.  But  with  this 
impetus  toward  a  reverence  for  life,  the  teacher  soon  finds  herself  in  a 
dilemma  from  which  there  is  no  logical  way  out,  so  long  as  she  lives  in  a 
world  where  lamb  chop,  beefsteak  and  roast  chicken  are  articles  of  ordi- 

12  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

nary  diet ;  a  world  in  fact,  where  every  meal  is  based  upon  the  death  of 
some  creature.  For  if  she  places  much  emphasis  upon  the  sacredness  of 
life,  the  children  soon  begin  to  question  whether  it  be  right  to  slay  the 
lamb  or  the  chicken  for  their  own  food.  It  would  seem  that  there  is 
nothing  for  the  consistent  nature-study  teacher  to  do  but  become  a 
vegetarian,  and  even  then  there  might  arise  refinements  in  this  question 
of  taking  life,  she  might  have  to  consider  the  cruelty  to  asparagus  in 
cutting  it  off  in  plump  infancy,  or  the  ethics  of  devouring  in  the  turnip  the 
food  laid  up  by  the  mother  plant  to  perfect  her  seed.  In  fact,  a  most 
rigorous  diet  would  be  forced  upon  the  teacher  who  should  refuse  to  sus- 
tain her  own  existence  at  the  cost  of  life;  and  if  she  should  attempt  to 
teach  the  righteousness  of  such  a  diet  she  would  undoubtedly  forfeit  her 
position;  and  yet  what  is  she  to  do!  vShe  will  soon  find  herself  in  the 
position  of  a  certain  lady  who  placed  sheets  of  sticky  fly-paper  around  her 
kitchen  to  rid  her  house  of  flies,  and  then  in  mental  anguish  picked  off  the 
buzzing,  struggling  victims  and  sought  to  clean  their  too  adhesive  wings 
and  legs. 

In  fact,  drawing  the  line  between  what  to  kill  and  what  to  let  live, 
requires  the  use  of  common  sense  rather  than  logic.  First  of  all,  the 
nature-study  teacher,  while  exemplifying  and  encouraging  the  humane 
attitude  toward  the  lower  creatures,  and  repressing  cnielty  which 
wantonly  causes  suffering,  should  never  magnify  the  terrors  of  death. 
Death  is  as  natural  as  life  and  the  inevitable  end  of  physical  life  on  our 
globe.  Therefore,  every  story  and  every  sentiment  expressed  which 
makes  the  child  feel  that  death  is  terrible,  is  wholly  wrong.  The  one  right 
way  to  teach  about  death  is  not  to  emphasize  it  one  way  or  another,  but  to 
deal  with  it  as  a  circumstance  common  to  all;  it  should  be  no  more 
emphasized  than  the  fact  that  creatures  eat  or  fall  asleep. 

Another  thing  for  the  nature-study  teacher  to  do  is  to  direct  the 
interest  of  the  child  so  that  it  shall  center  upon  the  hungry  creature 
rather  than  upon  the  one  which  is  made  into  the  meal.  It  is  well  to 
emphasize  the  fact  that  one  of  the  conditions  imposed  upon  every  living 
being  in  the  woods  and  fields,  is  that  it  is  entitled  to  a  meal  when  it  is 
hungry,  if  it  is  clever  enough  to  get  it.  The  child  naturally  takes  this 
view  of  it.  I  remember  well  as  a  child  I  never  thought  particularly  about 
the  mouse  which  m}^  cat  was  eating;  in  fact,  the  process  of  transmuting 
mouse  into  cat  seemed  altogether  proper,  but  when  the  cat  played  with 
the  mouse,  that  was  quite  another  thing,  and  was  never  permitted. 
Although  no  one  appreciates  more  deeply  than  I  the  debt  which  we  owe  to 
Thompson-Seton  and  writers  of  his  kind,  who  have  placed  before  the 
public  the  animal  story  from  the  animal  point  of  view  and  thus  set  us  all 
to  thinking,  yet  it  is  certainly  wrong  to  impress  this  view  too  strongly 
upon  the  young  and  sensitive  child.  In  fact,  this  process  should  not 
begin  until  the  judgment  and  the  understanding  is  well  developed,  for  we 
all  know  that  although  seeing  the  other  fellow's  standpoint  is  a  source  of 
strength  and  breadth  of  mind,  yet  living  the  other  fellow's  life  is,  at 
best,  an  enfeebling  process  and  a  futile  waste  of  energy. 

The  Teaching  of  Natitrc-^ytnJy  13 


T  IS  probably  within  the  proper  scope  of  the  nature-study 
teacher  to  place  emphasis  upon  the  domain  of  man,  who 
being  the  most  powerful  of  all  animals,  asserts  his  will  as 
to  which  ones  shall  live  in  his  midst.  From  a  standpoint 
of  abstract  justice,  the  stray  cat  has  just  as  much  right 
to  kill  and  eat  the  robin  which  builds  in  the  vine  of  my 
porch  as  the  robin  has  to  pull  and  eat  the  earthworms 
from  my  lawn ;  but  the  place  is  mine,  and  I  choose  to  kill 
the  cat  and  preserve  the  robin. 

When  emphasizing  the  domain  of  man,  we  may  have  to  deal  with  the 
killing  of  creatures  which  are  injurious  to  his  interests.  Nature-study 
may  be  tributary  to  this,  in  a  measure,  and  indirectly,  but  it  is  surely  not 
nature-study.  For  example,  the  child  studies  the  cabbage  butterfly  in 
all  its  stages,  the  exquisitely  sculptured  yellow  egg,  the  velvety  green 
caterpillar,  the  chrysalis  with  its  protecting  colors,  the  white-winged 
butterfly,  and  becomes  interested  in  the  life  of  the  insect.  Not  under  any 
consideration,  when  the  attention  of  the  child  is  focused  on  the  insect, 
should  we  suggest  a  remedy  for  it  when  a  pest.  Let  the  life-story  of  the 
butterfly  stand  as  a  fascinating  page  of  nature's  book.  But  later,  when 
the  child  enters  on  his  career  as  a  gardener,  when  he  sets  out  his  row  of 
cabbage  plants  and  waters  and  cultivates  them,  and  does  his  best  to  bring 
them  to  maturity,  along  comes  the  butterfly,  now  an  arch  enemy,  and 
begins  to  rear  her  progeny  on  the  product  of  his  toil.  Now  the  child's 
interest  is  focused  on  the  cabbage,  and  the  question  is  not  one  of  killing 
insects  so  much  as  of  saving  plants.  In  fact,  there  is  nothing  in  spraying 
the  plants  with  Paris  green  which  suggests  cruelty  to  innocent  caterpillars, 
nor  is  the  process  likely  to  harden  the  child's  sensibilities. 

To  gain  knowledge  of  the  life-story  of  insects  or  other  creatures  is 
nature-study.  To  destroy  them  as  pests  is  a  part  of  Agriculture  or 
Horticulture.  The  one  may  be  of  fundamental  assistance  to  the  other, 
but  the  two  arc  quite  separate  and  should  never  be  confused. 


A  field  note-book  may  be  made  a  joy  to  the  pupil  and  a  help  to  the 
teacher.  Any  kind  of  a  blank  book  will  do  for  this,  except  that  it  should 
not  be  too  large  to  be  carried  in  the  pocket,  and  it  should  always  have  the 
pencil  attached.  To  make  the  note-book  a  success  the  following  rules 
should  be  observed : 

(a)  The  bor)k  should  be  considered  the  personal  property  of  the  child 
and  should  never  be  criticized  by  the  teacher  except  as  a  matter  of 
encouragement;  for  the  spirit  in  which  the  notes  are  made,  is  more  im- 
portant than  the  information  they  cover. 

(b)  The  making  of  drawings  should  be  encouraged  for  illustrating 
what  is  observed.  A  graphic  drawing  is  far  better  than  a  long  descripti(^n 
of  a  natural  object. 

(c)  The  note-book  should  not  be  regarded  as  a  part  of  the  work  in 
English.  The  spelling,  language  and  writing  of  the  notes  should  all  be 
exempt  from  criticism. 

(d)  As  occasion  offers,  outlines  for  observing  certain  plants  or  ani- 
mals may  be  placed  in  the  note-book  previous  to  the  field  excursion  so  as 
to  give  definite  points  for  the  work. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

(e)     No  child  should  be  compelled  to  have  a  note-book. 

The  field  note-book  is  a  veritable  gold  mine  for  the  nature-study 
teacher  to  work,  in  securing  voluntary  and  happy  observations  from  the 
pupils  concerning  their  out-of-door  interests.  It  is  a  friendly  gate  which 
admits  the  teacher  to  a  knowledge  of  what  the  child  sees  and  cares  for. 
Through  it  she  may  discover  where  the  child's  attention  impinges  upon 
the  realm  of  nature  and  thus  may  know  where  to  find  the  starting  point  for 
cultivating  larger  intelligence  and  a  wider  interest. 

No.  ^73, 

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^A,^  -dsi  (Su^o-vv  ajLoM   OJsjk  mtic;*UJJ^,  iv^U>^=Mu  /x*^wU<U 












,- — ~>. 




A  page  front  the  field  note-book  of  a  lad  of  fourteen  who  read   Thoreau  and  admired 

the  books  of  Thompson-Seton. 

The  Teaching  of  Naturc-^tiidy  15 

I  have  examined  many  field  note-books  kept  by  pupils  in  the  inter- 
mediate grades  and  have  been  surprised  at  their  plenitude  of  accurate 
observation  and  graphic  illustration.  These  books  ranged  from  blank 
account  books  furnished  by  the  family  grocer  up  to  a  quarto,  the  pages  of 
which  were  adorned,  with  many  marginal  illustrations  made  in  passionate 
admiration  of  Thompson-Seton's  books  and  filled  with  carefully  trans- 
cribed text,  that  showed  the  direct  influence  of  Thoreau.  These  books,  of 
whatever  quality,  are  precious  beyond  price  to  their  owners.  And  why 
not?  For  they  represent  what  cannot  be  bought  or  sold,  personal 
experience  in  the  liappy  world  of  out-of-doors. 


ANY  teachers  look  upon   the  field  excursion  as  a  precar- 
ious voyage,    steered    between    the  Scylla    of     hilarious 
seeing  too  much  and  the  Charybdis  of  seeing  nothing  at 
^Wih  •'Wl'l^^       ^^^  because  of  the  zest  which  comes  from  freedom  in  the 
||.f  I  *|[j  t'j)  %       fields    and  wood.      This  danger  can  be  obviated  if  the 
teacher  plans  the  work   definitely   before   starting,  and 
demands  certain  results. 

It  is  a  mistake  to  think  that  a  half  day  is  necessary  for  a  field  lesson, 
since  a  very  efficient  field  trip  may  be  made  during  the  ten  or  fifteen 
minutes  at  recess,  if  it  is  well  planned.  Certain  questions  and  lines  of 
investigation  should  be  given  the  pupils  before  starting  and  given  in  such 
a  manner  as  to  make  them  thoroughly  interested  in  discovering  the  facts. 
A  certain  teacher  in  New  York  State  has  studied  all  the  common  plants 
and  trees  in  the  vicinity  of  her  school  with  these  recess  excursions  and  the 
pupils  have  been  enthusiastic  about  the  work. 

The  half  hour  excursion  should  be  preceded  by  a  talk  concerning  the 
purposes  of  the  outing  and  the  pupils  must  know  that  certain  observa- 
tions are  to  be  made  or  they  will  not  be  permitted  to  go  again.  This 
should  not  be  emphasized  as  a  punishment;  but  they  should  be  made  to 
understand  that  a  field  excursion  is  only,  naturally  enough,  for  those  who 
wish  to  see  and  understand  outdoor  life.  For  all  field  work,  the  teacher 
should  make  use  of  the  field  notebook  which  should  be  a  part  of  the  pupils' 


jlTTLE  attention  has  been  given  to  making  the  child  im- 
derstand  what  would  be  the  lives  of  his  pets  if  they  were 
in  their  native  environment;  or  to  relating  their  habits 
and  lives  as  wild  animals.  Almost  any  pet,  if  properly 
observed,  affords  an  admirable  opportunity  for  under- 
standing the  reasons  why  its  structure  and  peculiar  habits 
may  have  made  it  successful  among  other  creatures  and  in  other  lands. 
Moreover  the  actions  and  the  daily  life  of  the  pet  make  interesting 
subject  matter  for  a  note-book.  The  lessons  on  the  dog,  rabbit  and  horse 
as  given  in  this  volume  may  suggest  methods  for  such  study,  and  with 
apologies  that  it  is  not  better  and  more  interesting,  I  have  ])laced  with  the 
story  of  the  squirrel  a  few  pages  from  one  of  my  own  note-books  regarding 
my  experiences  with  "Furry."  I  include  this  record  as  a  suggestion  for 
the  children  that  they  should  keep  note-books  of  their  pets.     It  will  lead 

1 6  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

them  to  closer  observation  and  to  a  better  and  more  natural  expression 
of  their  experiences. 


ATURE-STUDY  should  be  so  much  a  part  of  the  child's 
thought  and  interest  that  it  will  naturally  form  a  thought 
core  for  other  subjects  quite  unconsciously  on  his  part. 
In  fact,  there  is  one  safe  rule  for  correlation  in  this  case,  it 
is  legitimate  and  excellent  training  as  long  as  the  pupil 
does  not  discover  that  he  is  correlating.  But  there  is 
something  in  human  nature  which  revolts  against  doing  one  thing  to 
accomplish  quite  another.  A  boy  once  said  to  m.e,  "I'd  rather  never  go 
on  a  field  excursion  than  to  have  to  write  it  up  for  English,"  a  sentiment 
I  sympathized  with  keenly;  ulterior  motive  is  sickening  to  the  honest 
spirit.  But  if  that  same  boy  had  been  a  member  of  a  field  class  and  had 
enjoyed  all  the  new  experiences  and  had  witnessed  the  interesting  things 
discovered  on  this  excursion,  and  if  later  his  teacher  had  asked  him  to 
write  for  her  an  account  of  some  part  of  it,  because  sJie  wished  to  know 
what  he  had  discovered,  the  chances  are  that  he  would  have  written  his 
story  joyfully  and  with  a  certain  pride  that  would  have  counted  much  for 
achievement  in  word  expression. 

AVhen  Mr.  John  Spencer,  known  to  so  many  children  in  New  York 
State  as  "Uncle  John,"  was  conducting  the  Junior  Naturalist  Clubs,  the 
teachers  allowed  letters  to  him  to  count  for  language  exercises;  and  the 
eagerness  with  which  these  letters  were  written  should  have  given  the 
teachers  the  key  to  the  proper  method  of  teaching  English.  Mr.  Spencer 
requested  the  teachers  not  to  correct  the  letters,  because  he  v/ished  the 
children  to  be  thinking  abaut  the  subject  matter  rather  than  the  form  of 
expression.  But  so  anxious  were  many  of  the  pupils  to  make  their  letters 
perfect,  that  they  earnestly  requested  their  teachers  to  help  them  write 
correctly,  which  was  an  ideal  condition  for  teaching  them  English. 
Writing  letters  to  Uncle  John  was  such  a  jo}^  to  the  pupils  that  it  was  used 
as  a  privilege  and  a  reward  of  merit  in  many  schools.  One  rural  teacher 
reduced  the  percentage  of  tardiness  to  a  minimum  by  giving  the  first 
period  in  the  morning  to  the  work  in  English  which  consisted  of  letters  to 
Uncle  John. 

Why  do  pupils  dislike  writing  English  exercises  ?  Simply  because  they 
are  not  interested  in  the  subject  they  are  asked  to  write  about,  and  they 
know  that  the  teacher  is  not  interested  in  the  information  contained  in  the 
essay.  But  when  they  are  interested  in  the  subject  and  write  about  it  to 
a  person  who  is  interested,  the  conditions  are  entirely  changed.  If  the 
teacher,  overwhelmed  as  she  is  by  work  and  perplexities,  could  only  keep 
in  mind  that  the  purpose  of  a  language  is,  after  all,  merely  to  convey  ideas, 
some  of  her  perplexities  would  fade  away.  A  conveyance  naturally 
should  be  fitted  for  the  load  it  is  to  carry,  and  if  the  pupil  acquires  the 
load  first  he  is  very  likely  to  construct  a  conveyance  that  will  be  adequate. 
How  often  the  conveyance  is  made  perfect  through  much  effort  and 
polished  through  agony  of  spirit  and  the  load  entirely  forgotten ! 

Nature-study  lessons  give  much  excellent  subject  matter  for  stories 
and  essays,  but  these  essays  should  never  be  criticized  or  defaced  with  the 
blue  pencil.     They  should  be  read  with  interest  by  the  teacher;   the  mis- 

The  TeacJiing  of  Nature-Study  17 

takes  made  in  them,  so  transformed  as  to  be  unrecognizable,  may  be  used 
for  drill  exercises  in  grammatical  construction.  After  all,  grammar  and 
spelling  are  only  gained  by  practice  and  there  is  no  royal  road  leading  to 
their  acquirement. 


HE  correlation  of  nature-study  and  drawing  is  so  natural 
and  inevitable  that  it  needs  never  be  revealed  to  the 
pupil.  When  the  child  is  interested  in  studying  any  ob- 
ject, he  enjoys  illustrating  his  observations  with  draw- 
ings; the  happy  absorption  of  children  thus  engaged  is  a 
delight  to  witness.  At  its  best,  drawing  is  a  perfectly 
natural  method  of  self-expression.  The  savage  and  the  young  child, 
both  untutored,  seek  to  express  themselves  and  their  experiences  by 
this  means.  It  is  only  when  the  object  to  be  drawn  is  foreign  to  the  in- 
terest of  the  child  that  drawing  is  a  task. 

Nature-study  offers  the  best  means  for  bridging  the  gap  that  lies 
between  the  kindergarten  child  who  makes  drawings  because  he  loves  to 
and  is  impelled  to  from  within,  and  the  pupil  in  the  grades  who  is  obliged 
to  draw  wdiat  the  teacher  places  before  him.  From  making  crude  and 
often  meaningless  pencil  strokes,  which  is  the  entertainment  of  the  young 
child,  the  outlining  of  a  leaf  or  some  other  simple  and  interesting  natural 
object,  is  a  normal  step  full  of  interest  for  the  child  because  it  is  still  self- 

Miss  Mary  E.  Hill  gives  every  year  in  the  Goodyear  School  of  Syracuse 
an  exhibition  of  the  drawings  made  by  the  children  in  the  nature-study 
classes;  and  these  are  universally  so  excellent  that  most  people  regard 
them  as  an  exhibition  from  the  Art  Department;  and  yet  many  of  these 
pupils  have  never  had  lessons  in  drawing.  They  have  learned  to  draw 
because  they  like  to  make  pictures  of  the  living  objects  which  they  have 
studied.  One  year  there  were  many  pictures  of  toads  in  various  stages  in 
this  exhibit,  and  although  their  anatomy  was  sometimes  awry  in  the  pic- 
tures, yet  there  was  a  certain  vivid  expression  of  life  in  their  representa- 
tion; one  felt  that  the  toads  could  jump.  Miss  Hill  allows  the  pupils  to 
choose  their  own  medium,  pencil,  crayon,  or  water-color,  and  says  that 
they  seem  to  feel  which  is  best.  For  instance,  when  drawing  the  outline 
of  trees  in  winter  they  choose  pencil,  but  when  representing  the  trillium 
or  iris  they  prefer  the  water-color,  while  for  bitter-sweet  and  crocuses  they 
choose  the  colored  crayons. 

It  is  through  this  method  of  drawing  that  which  interests  him,  that  the 
child  retains  and  keeps  as  his  own,  what  should  be  an  inalienable  right,  a 
graphic  method  of  expressing  his  own  impressions.  Too  much  have  we 
emphasized  drawing  as  an  art;  it  may  be  an  art,  if  the  one  who  draws  is 
an  artist;  but  if  he  is  not  an  artist  he  still  has  a  right  to  draw  if  it  pleases 
him  to  do  so.  We  might  as  well  declare  that  a  child  should  not  speak 
unless  he  put  his  words  into  poetry,  as  to  declare  that  he  should  not  draw 
because  his  drawings  are  not  artistic. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Stiidy 


IFE  depends  upon  its  environment.  Geographical 
conditions  and  limitations  have  shaped  the  mold 
into  which  plastic  life  has  been  poured  and  by 
which  its  form  has  been  modified.  It  may  be 
easy  for  the  untrained  mind  to  see  how  the  des- 
erts and  oceans  affect  life.  Cattle  may  not  roam 
in  the  former  because  there  is  nothing  there  for 
them  to  eat,  nor  may  they  occupy  the  latter  be- 
cause they  are  not  fitted  for  breathing  air  in  the 
water.  And  yet  the  camel  can  endure  thirst  and 
live  on  the  scant  food  ot  the  desert;  and  the 
whale  is  a  mammal  fitted  to  live  in  the  sea.  The  question  is,  how  are  we 
to  impress  the  child  with  the  "  have  to  "  which  lies  behind  all  these  geo- 
graphical facts.  If  animals  live  in  the  desert  they  liave  to  subsist  on 
scant  and  peculiar  food  which  grows  there;  they  liave  to  get  along  with 
little  water;  they  have  to  endure  heat  and  sand  storms;  they  Iiave  to 
have  eyes  that  will  not  become  blinded  by  the  vivid  reflection  of  the  sun- 
light on  the  sand ;  they  have  to  be  of  sand  color  so  that  they  may  escape 
the  eyes  of  their  enemies  or  creep  upon  their  prey  unperceived. 

All  these  have  to's  are  not  mere  chance,  but  they  have  existed  so  long 
that  the  animal,  by  constantly  coming  in  contact  with  them,  has  attained 
its  present  form  and  habits. 

There  are  just  as  many  have  to's  in  the  stream  or  the  pond  back  of  the 
school-house,  on  the  dry  hillside  behind  it  or  in  the  woods  beyond  the  creek 
as  there  are  in  desert  or  ocean;  and  when  the  child  gets  an  inkling  of  this 
fact,  he  has  made  a  great  step  into  the  realm  of  geography.  When  he 
realizes  why  water  lilies  can  grow  only  in  still  water  that  is  not  too  deep 
and  which  has  a  silt  bottom,  and  why  the  cat-tails  grow  in  swamps  where 
there  is  not  too  much  water,  and  why  the  mullen  grows  in  the  dry  pasture, 
and  why  the  hepatica  thrives  in  the  rich,  damp  woods,  and  why  the  daisies 
grow  in  the  meadows,  he  will  understand  that  this  partnership  of  nature 
and  geography  illustrates  the  laws  which  govern  life.  Many  phases  of 
physical  geography  belong  to  the  realm  of  nature-study;  the  brook,  its 
course,  its  work  or  erosion  and  sedimentation;  the  rocks  of  many  kinds, 
the  soil,  the  climate,  the  weather,  are  all  legitimate  subjects  for  nature- 
study  lessons. 


^iA^HERE  are  many  points  where  nature-study  impinges 
ttpon  history  in  a  way  that  may  prove  the  basis  for  an 
inspiring  lesson.  Many  of  our  weeds,  cultivated  plants 
and  domestic  animals  have  been  introduced  from  Eu- 
rope and  are  a  part  of  our  colonial  history ;  while  there 
are  many  of  the  most  commonly  seen  creatures  which 
have  played  their  part  in  the  history  of  ancient  times. 
For  instance,  the  bees  which  gave  to  man  the  only 
means  available  to  him  for  sweetening  his  food  until  the  17th  century, 
"were  closely  allied  to  the  home  life  of  ancient  peoples.  The  buffalo 
which  ranged  our  western  plains  had  much  to  do  with  the  life  of  the  red 
man.     The  study  of  the  grasshopper  brings  to  the  child's  attention  stories 

Tlte  Teaching  of  Nature-Study 


of  the  locusts'  invasion  mentioned  in  the  Bible,  and  the  stars  which 
witnessed  our  creation  and  of  which  Job  sang  and  the  ancients  wrote, 
shine  over  our  heads  every  night. 

But  the  trees,  through  the  lengthy  span  of  their  lives,  cover  more  history 
individually,  than  do  other  organisms.  In  glancing  across  the  wood-covered 
hills  of  New  York  one  often  sees  there,  far  above  the  other  trees,  the 
gaunt  crowns  of  old  white  pines.  Such  trees  belonged  to  the  forest 
primeval  and  may  have  attained  the  age  of  two  centuries;  they  stand 
there  looking  out  over  the  world,  relics  of  another  age  when  America  be- 
longed to  the  red  man,  and  the  bear  and  the  panther  played  or  fought 
beneath  them.  The  cedars  live  longer  than  do  the  pines  and  the  great 
scarlet  oak  may  have  attained  the  age  of  four  centuries  before  it  yields 
to  fate. 

Perhaps  in  no  other  way  may  the  attention  of  the  pupil  be  turned  so 
naturally  to  past  events,  as  through  the  thought  that  the  life  of  such  a  tree 
has  spanned  so  much  of  human  history.  The  life  history  of  one  of  these 
ancient  trees  should  be  made  the  center  of  local  history;  let  the  pupils 
find  when  the  town  was  first  settled  by  the  whites  and  where  they  came 
from  and  how  large  the  tree  was  then.  AVhat  Indian  tribes  roamed  the 
woods  before  that  and  what  animals  were  common  in  the  forest  when  this 
tree  was  a  sapling?  Thus  may  be  brought  out  the  chief  events  in  the 
history  of  the  county  and  township,  when  they  were  established  and  for 
whom  or  what  they  were  named;  and  a  comparison  of  the  present 
industries  may  be  made  with  those  of  a  hundred  years  ago. 


HE  arithmetical  problems  presented  by  nature-study 
are  many;  some  of  them  are  simple  and  some  of 
them  are  complicated,  and  all  of  them  are  illumin- 
ing. Seed  distribution  especially  lends  itself  to 
computation;  a  milkweed  pod  contains  140  seeds; 
there  are  five  such  pods  on  one  plant,  each  milkweed 
plant  requires  at  least  one  square  foot  of  ground  to 
grow  on ;  how  much  ground  would  be  required  to 
grow  all  of  the  seeds  from  this  one  plant?  Or,  count 
the  seeds  in  one  dandelion  head,  multiply  by  the 
number  of  flower  heads  on  the  plant  and  estimate 
how  many  plants  can  grow  on  a  square  foot,  then 
ask  a  boy  how  long  it  would  take  for  one  dandelion 
plant  to  cover  his  father's  farm  with  its  progeny;  or 
count  the  blossoms  on  one  branch  of  an  apple  tree, 
later  count  the  ripened  fruit;  what  percentage  of  blossoms  matured  in- 
to fruit?  Measuring  trees,  their  height  and  thickness  and  computing  the 
lumber  they  will  make  combines  arithmetic  and  geometry,  and  so  on  ad 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  teacher  will  find  in  almost  every  nature  lesson 
an  arithmetic  lesson;  and  when  arithmetic  is  used  in  this  work,  it  should 
be  vital  and  inherent  and  not  "tacked  on;"  the  pupils  should  be  really 
interested  in  the  answers  to  their  problems;  and  as  with  all  correlation, 
the  success  of  it  depends  upon  the  genius  of  the  teacher. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


RRONEOUSLY,  some  people  maintain  that  gardening  is 
nature-study;  this  is  not  so  necessarily  nor  ordinarily. 
Gardening  may  be  a  basis  for  nature-study  but  it  is 
rarely  made  so  to  any  great  extent.  Even  the  work  in 
children's  gardens  is  so  conducted  that  the  pupils  know 
little  or  nothing  of  the  flowers  or  vegetables  which  they 
grow  except  their  names,  their  uses  to  man  and  how  to 
cultivate  them.  They  are  taught  how  to  prepare  the  soil,  but  the 
reason  for  this  from  the  plant's  standpoint  is  never  revealed;  and  if 
the  child  becomes  acquainted  with  the  plants  in  his  garden,  he  makes  the 
discovery  by  himself.  All  this  is  nothing  against  gardening!  It  is  a 
wholesome  and  valuable  experience  for  a  child  to  learn  how  to  make  a 
garden  even  if  he  remains  ignorant  of  the  interesting  facts  concerning  the 
plants  which  he  there  cultivates.  But  if  the  teachers  are  so  inclined,  they 
may  find  in  the  garden  and  its  products,  the  most  interesting  m.aterial  for 
the  best  of  nature  lessons.  Every  plant  the  child  grows  is  an  individual 
with  its  own  peculiarities  as  well  as  those  of  its  species  in  manner  of 
growth.  Its  roots,  stems  and  leaves  are  of  certain  form  and  structure; 
and  often  the  special  uses  to  the  plant  of  its  own  kind  of  leaves,  stems  and 
roots  are  obvious.  Each  plant  has  its  own  form  of  flower  and  even  its 
own  tricks  for  securing  pollination ;  and  its  own  manner  of  developing 
and  scattering  its  seeds.  Every  weed  of  the  garden  has  developed 
some  special  method  of  winning  and  holding  its  place  among  the  culti- 
vated plants;  and  in  no  other  way  may  the  child  so  fully  and  naturally 
come  into  a  comprehension  of  that  term  "the  survival  of  the  fittest" 
as  by  studying  the  ways  of  the  fit  as  exemplified  in  the  triumphant  weeds 
of  his  garden. 

Every  earthworm  working  below  the  soil  is  doing  something  for  the 
garden.  Every  bee  that  visits  the  flowers  there  is  on  an  errand  for  the 
garden  as  well  as  for  herself.  Every  insect  feeding  on  leaf  or  root  is  doing 
something  to  the  garden.  Every  bird  that  nests  near  by  or  that  ever 
visits  it,  is  doing  something  which  affects  the  life  and  the  growth  of  the 
garden.  What  all  of  these  uninvited  guests  are  doing  is  one  field  of 
garden  nature-study.  Aside  from  all  this  study  of  individual  life  in  the 
garden  which  even  the  youngest  child  may  take  part  in,  there  are  the 
more  advanced  lessons  on  the  soil.  What  kind  of  soil  is  it?  From  what 
sort  of  rock  was  it  formed?  What  renders  it  mellow  and  fit  for  the  grow- 
ing of  plants?  Moreover,  what  do  the  plants  get  from  it?  How  do  they 
get  it?     What  do  they  do  with  what  they  get? 

This  leads  to  the  subject  of  plant  physiology,  the  elements  of  which 
may  be  taught  simply  by  experiments  carried  on  b}^  the  children  them- 
selves, experiments  which  should  demonstrate  the  sap  currents  in  the 
plant;  the  use  of  water  to  carry  food  and  in  making  the  plant  rigid;  the 
use  of  sunshine  in  making  the  plant  food  in  the  leaf  laboratories;  the 
nourishment  provided  for  the  seed  and  its  germination,  and  many  other 
similar  lessons. 

A  child  who  makes  a  garden,  and  thus  becomes  intimate  with  the  plants 
he  cultivates,  and  comes  to  understand  the  interrelation  of  the  various 
forms  of  life  which  he  finds  in  his  garden,  has  progressed  far  in  the  funda- 
mental knowledge  of  nature's  ways  as  well  as  in  a  practical  knowledge 
of  agriculture. 

The  Teaching  of  Nature-Study  21 


UCKILY,   thumb-rtile    agriculture   is   being    pushed    to  the   wall 
in    these   enlightened   days.     Thumb  rules    would    work    much 
better    if  nature   did    not    vary  her    performances   in   such    a 
confusing     way.      Government     experiment     stations 
were    established  because    thumb    rules    for    farming 
were  unreliable  and   disappointing;    and    all  the   work 
of    all    the   experiment  stations  has  been   simply    ad- 
"~  vanced  nature-study  and  its  application  to  the  prac- 

tice of  agriculture.  Both  nature-study  and  agriculture  are  based  upon 
the  study  of  life  and  the  physical  conditions  which  encourage  or  limit  life;, 
this  is  known  to  the  world  as  the  study  of  the  natural  sciences;  and  if  we 
see  clearly  the  relation  of  nature-study  to  science,  we  may  understand 
better  the  relation  of  nature-study  to  agriculture,  which  is  based  upon 
the  sciences. 

Nature-study  is  science  brought  home.  It  is  a  knowledge  of  botany, 
zoology  and  geology  as  illustrated  in  the  dooryard,  the  corn-field  or  the 
woods  back  of  the  house.  Some  people  have  an  idea  that  to  know  these 
sciences  one  must  go  to  college;  they  do  not  understand  that  nature  has 
furnished  the  material  and  laboratories  on  every  farm  in  the  land.  Thus, 
by  beginning  with  the  child  in  nature-study  we  take  him  to  the  laboratory 
of  the  wood  or  garden,  the  roadside  or  the  field,  and  his  materials  are  the 
wild  flowers  or  the  weeds,  or  the  insects  that  visit  the  golden-rod  or  the 
bird  that  sings  in  the  maple  tree,  or  the  woodchuck  whistling  in  the  pas- 
ture. The  child  begins  to  study  living  things  anywhere  or  everywhere, 
and  his  progress  is  always  along  the  various  tracks  laid  down  by  the  laws 
of  life,  along  which  his  work  as  an  agriculturist  must  always  progress  if  it 
is  to  be  successful. 

The  child  through  nature-study  learns  the  way  a  plant  grows,  whether 
it  be  an  oak,  a  turnip  or  a  pigweed;  he  learns  how  the  roots  of  each  is 
adapted  to  its  needs;  how  the  leaves  place  themselves  to  get  the  sunshine 
and  why  they  need  it;  and  how  the  flowers  get  their  pollen  carried  by  the 
bee  or  wind;  and  how  the  seeds  are  finally  scattered  and  planted.  Or  he 
learns  about  the  life  of  the  bird,  whether  it  be  a  chicken,  an  owl  or  a 
bobolink;  he  knows  how  each  bird  gets  its  food  and  what  its  food  is,  where 
it  lives,  where  it  nests  and  its  relation  to  other  living  things.  He  studies 
the  bumblebee  and  discovers  its  great  mission  of  pollen  carrying  for  many 
flowers,  and  in  the  end  would  no  sooner  strike  it  dead  than  he  would 
voluntarily  destroy  his  clover  patch.  This  is  the  kind  of  learning  we  call 
nature-study  and  not  science  or  agriculture.  But  the  country  child  can 
never  learn  anything  in  nature-study  that  has  not  something  to  do  with 
science;  and  that  has  not  its  own  practical  lesson  for  him,  when  he  shall 
become  a  farmer. 

Some  have  argued,  "Why  not  make  nature-study  along  the  lines  of 
agriculture  solely?  Why  should  not  the  child  begin  nature-study  with 
the  cabbage  rather  than  the  wild  flowers?"  This  argument  carried  out 
logically  provides  recreation  for  a  boy  in  hoeing  com  rather  than  in  play- 
ing ball.  Many  parents  in  the  past  have  argued  thus  and  have,  in  conse- 
quence, driven  thousands  of  splendid  boys  from  the  country  to  the  city 
with  a  loathing  in  their  souls  for  the  drudgery  which  seemed  all  there  was 
to  farm  life.     The  reason  why  the  wild  flowers  may  be  selected  for  begin- 

2  2  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

ning  the  nature-study  of  plants,  is  because  every  child  loves  these  wood- 
land posies,  and  his  happiest  hours  are  spent  in  gathering  them.  Never 
yet  have  we  known  of  a  case  where  a  child  having  gained  his  knowledge  of 
the  way  a  plant  lives  through  studying  the  plants  he  loves,  has  failed  to  be 
interested  and  delighted  to  find  that  the  wonderful  things  he  discovered 
about  his  wild  floT^er  may  be  true  of  the  vegetable  in  the  garden,  or  the 
purslane  which  fights  with  it  for  ground  to  stand  upon. 

Some  have  said,  "We,  as  farmers,  care  only  to  know  what  concerns  our 
pocket-books;  we  wish  only  to  study  those  things  which  we  must,  as 
farmers,  cultivate  or  destroy.  We  do  not  care  for  the  butterfly,  but  we 
wish  to  know  the  plum  weevil;  we  do  not  care  for  the  trillium  but  we  are 
'interested  in  the  onion;  we  do  not  care  for  the  meadow-lark  but  we 
cherish  the  gosling."  This  is  an  absurd  argument  since  it  is  a  mental 
impossibility  for  any  human  being  to  discriminate  between  two  things 
when  he  knows  or  sees  only  one.  In  order  to  understand  the  important 
economic  relations  to  the  world  of  one  plant  or  animal,  it  is  absolutely 
necessary  to  have  a  wide  knowledge  of  other  plants  and  animals.  One 
might  as  well  say,  "I  will  see  the  approaching  cyclone,  but  never  look  at 
the  sky;  I  will  look  at  the  clover  but  not  see  the  dandelion ;  I  will  look  for 
the  sheriff  when  he  comes  over  the  hill  but  will  not  see  any  other  team  on 
the  road." 

Nature-study  is  an  effort  to  make  the  individual  use  his  senses  instead 
of  losing  them;  to  train  him  to  keep  his  eyes  open  to  all  things  so  that  his 
powers  of  discrimination  shall  be  based  on  wisdom.  The  ideal  farmer  is 
not  the  man  who  by  hazard  and  chance  succeeds;  he  is  the  man  who  loves 
his  farm  and  all  that  surrounds  it  because  he  is  awake  to  the  beauty  as  well 
as  to  the  wonders  which  are  there ;  he  is  the  man  who  understands  as  far 
as  may  be  the  great  forces  of  nature  which  are  at  work  around  him,  and 
therefore,  he  is  able  to  m.ake  them  work  for  him.  For  what  is  agriculture 
save  a  diversion  of  natural  forces  for  the  benefit  of  man !  The  farmer  who 
knows  these  forces  only  when  restricted  to  his  paltry  crops,  and  has  no 
idea  of  their  larger  application,  is  no  more  efficient  as  a  farmicr  than  would 
a  man  be  as  an  engineer  who  knew  nothing  of  his  engine  except  how  to 
start  and  stop  it. 

In  order  to  appreciate  truly  his  farm,  the  farmer  must  needs  begin  as  a 
child  with  nature-study ;  in  order  to  be  successful  and  make  the  farm  pay, 
he  must  needs  continue  in  nature-study;  and  to  make  his  declining  years 
happy,  content,  full  of  wide  sympathies  and  profitable  thought,  he  must 
needs  conclude  with  nature-study;  for  nature-study  is  the  alphabet  of 
agriculture  and  no  word  in  that  great  vocation  may  be  spelled  without  it. 


,HE  organizing  of  a  club  by  the  pupils  for  the  purpose  of 
studying  out-of-door  life,  is  a  great  help  and  inspiration 
to  the  work  in  nature-study  in  the  classroom.  The 
essays  and  the  talks  before  the  club,  prove  efficient  aid  in 
English  composition;  and  the  varied  interests  of  the 
members  of  the  club,  furnish  new  and  vital  material  for 
stud\^  A  button  or  a  badge  may  be  designed  for  the  club 
and,  of  course,  it  must  have  constitution  and  by-laws. 
The  proceedings  of  the  club  meetings  should  be  conducted 
according  to  parliamentary  rules;  but  the  field  excursions 
should  be  entirelv  informal. 

The  Teaching  of  N ature-Stiidy 


The  meetings  of  the  Junior  Naturahsts  Clubs,  as  organized  in  the 
schools  of  New  York  State  by  Mr.  John  W.  Spencer,  were  most  impres- 
sive. The  school  session  would  be  brought  to  a  close,  the  teacher  stepping 
down  and  taking  a  seat  with  the  pupils.  The  president  of  the  club,  some 
bashful  boy  or  slender  slip  of  a  girl  would  take  the  chair  and  conduct  the 
meeting  with  a  dignity  and  efficiency  worthy  of  a  statesman.  The  order 
was  perfect,  the  discussion  much  to  the  point.  I  confess  to  a  feeling  of 
awe  when  I  attended  these  meetings,  conducted  so  seriously  and  so 
formally,  by  such  youngsters.  Undoubtedly,  the  parliamentary  training 
and  experience  in  speaking  impromptu,  are  among  the  chief  benefits  of 
such  a  club. 

These  clubs  may  be  organized  for  special  study.  In  one  bird  club  of 
which  I  know  there  have  been  contests.  Sides  were  chosen  and  the 
number  of  birds  seen  from  May  ist  to  31st  inclusive  was  the  test  of 
supremacy.  Notes  on  the  birds  were  taken  in  the  field  with  such  care, 
that  when  at  the  end  of  the  month  each  member  handed  in  his  notes,  they 
could  be  used  as  evidence  of  accurate  identification.  An  umpire  with  the 
help  of  bird  manuals  decided  the  doubtful  points.  This  year  the  score 
stood  79  to  81. 

The  programs  of  the  nature  club  should  be  varied  so  as  to  be  continually 
interesting.  Poems  and  stories,  concerning  the  objects  studied,  help 
make  the  program  attractive. 


Handbook  of  N ature-Study 


IRST  and  indispensably,  the  teacher  should  have  at 
hand  the  subject  of  the  lesson.  She  should  make 
herself  familiar  with  the  points  covered  by  the 
questions  and  read  the  story  before  giving  the  lesson. 
If  she  does  not  have  the  time  to  go  over  the  observa- 
tions suggested,  before  giving  the  lesson,  she  should 
take  up  the  questions  with  the  pupils  as  a  joint 
investigation,  and  be  boon  companion  in  discover- 
ing the  story. 

The  story  should  not  be  read  to  the  pupils.  It  is  given  as  an  assistance 
to  the  teacher,  and  is  not  meant  for  direct  information  to  the  pupils.  If 
the  teacher  knows  a  fact  in  nature's  realm,  she  is  then  in  a  position  to  lead 
her  pupils  to  discover  this  fact  for  themselves. 

Make  the  lesson  an  investigation  and  make  the  pupils  feel  that  they 
are  investigators.  To  tell  the  story  to  begin  with,  inevitably  spoils  this 
attitude  and  quenches  interest. 

The  "leading  thought"  embodies  some  of  the  points  which  should  be 
in  the  teacher's  mind  while  giving  the  lesson;  it  should  not  be  read  or 
declared  to  the  pupils. 

The  outlines  for  observations  herein  given,  by  no  means  cover  all  of 
the  observations  possible;  they  are  meant  to  suggest  to  the  teacher 
observations  of  her  own,  rather  than  to  be  followed  slavishly. 

The  suggestions  for  observations  have  been  given  in  the  form  of  ques- 
tions, merely  for  the  sake  of  saving  space.  The  direct  questioning 
method,  if  not  employed  with  discretion,  becomes  tiresome  to  both  pupil 
and  teacher.  If  the  questions  do  not  inspire  the  child  to  investigate,  they 
are  useless.  To  grind  out  answers  to  questions  about  any  natural  object 
is  not  nature-study,  it  is  simply  "grind,"  a  form  of  mental  activity  which 
is  of  much  greater  use  when  applied  to  spelling  or  the  multipHcation  table 
than  to  the  study  of  nature.  The  best  teacher  will  cover  the  points 
suggested  for  observations  with  few  direct  questions.  To  those  who 
find  the  questions  inadequate  I  will  say  that,  although  I  have  used 
these  outlines  once,  I  am  sure  I  should  never  be  able  to  use  them  again 
without  making  changes. 

The  topics  chosen  for  these  lessons  may  not  be  the  most  practical  nor 
the  most  interesting  nor  the  most  enlightening  that  are  to  be  found ;  they 
are  simply  those  subjects  which  I  have  used  in  my  classes,  because  we 
happened^o  find  them  at  hand  the  mornings  the  lessons  were  given. 

While  an  earnest  attempt  has  been  made  to  make  the  information  in 
this  book  accurate,  it  is  to  be  expected  and  to  be  hoped  that  many  dis- 
crepancies will  be  found  by  those  who  follow  the  lessons.  No  two  ani- 
mals or  plants  are  just  alike,  and  no  two  people  see  things  exactly  the 
same  way.  The  chief  aim  of  this  volume  is  to  encourage  investigation 
rather  than  to  give  information.  Therefore,  if  mistakes  are  found,  the 
object  of  the  book  will  have  been  accompHshed,  and  the  author  will  feel 
deeply  gratified.  If  the  teacher  finds  that  the  observations  made  by  her 
and  her  pupils,  do  not  agree  with  the  statements  in  the  book,  I  earnestly 
enjoin  upon  her  to  trust  to  her  own  eyes  rather  than  to  any  book. 

No  teacher  is  expected  to  teach  all  the  lessons  in  this  book.  A  wide 
range  of  subjects  is  given,  so  that  congenial  choice  may  be  made. 



L     BIRD    STUDY 

^■■W^^HE  reason  for  studying  any  bird  is  to  ascertain  what 
I      I  it  does;  in  order  to  accomplish  this,  it  is  necessary 

■  to  know  what  the  bird  is,  learning  what  it  is,  being 

-  •  "«  '  simply  a  step  that  leads  to  a  knowledge  of  what 

it  does.  But,  to  hear  some  of  our  bird  devotees 
talk,  one  would  think  that  to  be  able  to  identify 
a  bird  is  all  of  bird  study.  On  the  contrary,  the 
identification  of  birds  is  simply  the  alphabet  to 
the  real  study,  the  alphabet  by  means  of  which 
we  may  spell  out  the  life  habits  of  the  bird.  To 
know  these  habits  is  the  ambition  of  the  true  orni- 
thologist, and  should  hkewise  be  the  ambition  of  the  beginner,  even 
though  the  beginner  be  a  young  child. 

Several  of  the  most  common  birds  have  been  selected  as  subjects  for 
lessons  in  this  book;  other  common  birds,  like  the  phoebe  and  wrens,  have 
been  omitted  purposely;  after  the  children  have  studied  the  birds,  as 
indicated  in  the  lessons,  they  will  enjoy  working  out  lessons  for  them- 
selves with  other  birds.  Naturally,  the  sequence  of  these  lessons  does  not 
follow  scientific  classification;  in  the  first  ten  lessons,  an  attempt  has 
been  made  to  lead  the  child  gradually  into  a  knowledge  of  bird  life. 
Beginning  with  the  chicken  there  follow  naturally  the  lessons  with 
pigeons  and  the  canary;  then  there  follows  the  careful  and  detailed  study 
of  the  robins  and  constant  comparison  of  them  with  the  blue  birds.  This 
is  enough  for  the  first  year  in  the  primary  grades.  The  next  year  the 
work  begins  with  the  birds  that  remain  in  the  North  during  the  winter, 
the  chickadee,  nuthatch  and  downy  woodpecker.  After  these  have  been 
studied  carefully,  the  teacher  may  be  an  opportunist  when  spring  comes 
and  select  any  of  the  lessons  when  the  bird  subjects  are  at  hand.  The 
classification  suggested  for  the  woodpeckers  and  the  swallows  is  for  more 
advanced  pupils,  as  are  the  lessons  on  the  geese  and  turkeys.  It  is  to 
be  hoped  that  these  lessons  will  lead  the  child  directly  to  the  use  of  the 
bird  manuals,  of  which  there  are  several  excellent  ones. 


The  hen  is  especially  adapted  as  an  object  lesson  for  the  young 
beginner  of  bird  study.  First  of  all,  she  is  a  bird,  notwithstanding  the 
adverse  opinions  of  two  of  my  small  pupils  who  stoutly  maintained  that 
"a  robin  is  a  bird,  but  a  hen  is  a  hen."  Moreover,  the  hen  is  a  bird  always 
available  for  nature-study;  she  looks  askance  at  us  from  the  crates  of  the 
world's  marts;  she  comes  to  meet  us  in  the  country  barnyard,  stepping 
toward  us  sedately;  looking  at  us  earnestly,  with  one  eye,  then  turning  her 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

head  so  as  to  check  up  her  observations  with  the  other;  meantime  she 
asks  us  a  httie  question  in  a  wheedUng,  soft  tone,  which  we  understand 
perfectly  to  mean  "have  you  perchance  brought  me  something  to  eat?" 
Not  only  is  the  hen  an  interesting  bird  in  herself,  but  she  is  a  bird  with 
problems;  and  by  studying  her  carefully  we  may  be  introduced  into  the 
very  heart  and  center  of  bird  life. 

This  lesson  may  be  presented  in  two  ways:  First,  if  the  pupils  live  in 
the  country  where  they  have  poultry  at  home,  the  whole  series  of  lessons 
may  best  be  accomplished  through  interested  talks  on  the  part  of  the 
teacher,  which  should  be  followed  on  the  part  of  the  children,  by  observa- 
tions, which  should  be  made  at  home  and  the  results  given  in  school  in 
oral  or  written  lessons.  Second,  if  the  pupils  are  not  familiar  with  fowls, 
a  hen  and  a  chick,  if  possible,  should  be  kept  in  a  cage  in  the  schoolroom 
for  a  few  days,  and  a  duck  or  gosling  should  be  brought  in  one  day  for 
observation.  The  crates  in  which  fowls  are  sent  to  market  make  very 
good  cages.  One  of  the  teachers  of  the  Elmira,  N.  Y.  Schools  introduced 
into  the  basement  of  the  schoolhouse  a  hen,  which  there  hatched  her 
brood  of  chicks,  much  to  the  children's  delight  and  edification.  After  the 
pupils  have  become  thoroughly  interested  in  the  hen  and  are  familiar  with 
her  ways,  after  they  have  fed  her  and  watched  her,  and  have  for  her  a 
sense  of  ownership,  the  following  lessons  may  be  given  in  an  informal 
manner,  as  if  they  were  naturally  suggested  to  the  teacher's  mind  through 
watching  the  fowl. 

Bird  Study  27 


Teacher's  Story 

Wr-^'^T^, ^    HE  bird's  clothing  affords  a  natural  beginning  for  bird 

^^     I      ^^       study  because  the  wearing  of  feathers  is  a  most  strik- 
^  *  ^      ing  character  distinguishing  birds  from  other  crea- 

tures; also,  feathers  and  flying  are  the  first  things 
the  young  child  notices  about  birds. 
The  purpose  of  all  of  these  lessons  on  the  hen  are:  (a)  To  induce  the 
child  to  make  continued  and  sympathetic  observations  on  the  habits  of 
the  domestic  birds,  (b)  To  cause  him  involuntarily  to  compare  the 
domestic  with  the  wild  birds,  (c)  To  induce  him  to  think  for  himself  why 
the  shape  of  the  body,  wings,  head,  beak,  feet,  legs  and  feathers  are 
adapted  in  each  species  to  protect  the  bird  and  assist  it  in  getting  its 

The  overlapping  of  the  feathers  on  a  hen's  back  and  breast  is  a  pretty 
illustration  of  nature's  method  of  shingling,  so  that  the  rain,  finding  no 
place  to  enter,  drips  off,  leaving  the  bird's  underclothing  quite  dry.  It 
is  interesting  to  note  how  a  hen  behaves  in  the  rain;  she  droops  her  tail 
and  holds  herself  so  that  the  water  finds  upon  her  no  resting  place,  but 
simply  a  steep  surface  down  which  to  flow  to  the  ground. 

Each     feather     consists      of  Hooks  on  bnrbeU 

three  parts,  the  shaft  or  quill, 
which  is  the  central  stiff  stem 
of  the  feather,  giving  i  t 
strength.  From  this  quill 
come  off  the  barbs  which, 
toward  the  outer  end,  join  to- 
gether in  a  smooth  web,  mak- 
ing the  thin,  fan-like  portion 
of  the  feather ;  at  the  base  is 
the  fluff,  which  is  soft  and 
downy  and  near  to  the  body 
of  the  fowl.  The  teacher 
should  put  on  the  blackboard 
this  figure  so  that  incidentally 
the  pupils  may  learn  the  parts 
of  a  feather  and  their  struc- 
ture.  If  a  microscope  is 
available,  show  both  the  web  ^  jeather 

and  the  fluff  of  a  feather  under  a  three-fourths  objective. 

The  feathers  on  the  back  of  a  hen  are  longer  and  narrower  in  propor- 
tion than  those  on  the  breast  and  are  especially  fitted  to  protect  the  back 
from  rain ;  the  breast  feathers  are  shorter  and  have  more  of  the  fluff,  thus 
protecting  the  breast  from  the  cold  as  well  as  the  rain.  It  is  plain  to  any 
child  that  the  soft  fluff  is  comparable  to  our  woolen  underclothing  while 
the  srnooth,  overlapping  web  forms  a  rain  and  wind-proof  outer  coat. 
Downisafeather  with  no  quill;  young  chicks  are  covered  with  down.  A 
pin-feather  is  simply  a  young  feather  rolled  up  in  a  sheath,  which  bursts 
later  and  is  shed,  leaving  the  feather  free  to  assume  its  form.  Take  a 
large  pin-feather  and  cut  the  sheath  open  and  show  the  pupils  the  young 
feather  lying  within. 

•/    ,/,V      cry„|J/ 


Handbook  of  N aiiire-Stiidy 

When  a  hen  oils  her  feathers  it  is  a  process  well  worth  observing.  The 
oil  gland  is  on  her  back  just  at  the  base  of  the  tail  feathers;  she  squeezes 
the  gland  with  her  beak  to  get  the  oil  and  then  rubs  the  beak  over  the  sur- 
face of  her  feathers  and  passes  them  through  it;  she  spends  more  time 
oiling  the  feathers  on  her  back  and  breast  than  those  on  the  other  parts, 
so  that  they  will  surely  shed  water.  Country  people  say  when  the  hen 
oils  her  feathers,  it  is  a  sure  sign  of  rain.  The  hen  sheds  her  feathers  once 
a  year  and  is  a  most  untidy  looking  bird  meanwhile,  a  fact  that  she  seems 
to  realize,  and  is  as  shy  and  cross  as  a  young  lady  caught  in  company  in 
curl  papers;  but  she  seems  very  pleased  with  herself  when  she  finally 
gains  her  new  feathers. 

Feathers  of  a  rooster,  showing  their  relative  size,  shape  and  position 
I,  neck  hackle;   2.  breast;   3,  wing  shoulder  covert;   4,  wing  flight  covert ;   5,  wing  primary; 
6,  wing  secondarv;    7,  wing  covert;     8,   back;    9,  tail  covert;    10,    main  tail;    11,   fluft; 
T2,   thigh;     13,   saddle  hackle;     14.   the  sickle  or  feather  of  beauty;     15,   lesser  sickle. 
Prof.  J.  E.   Rice  in  Rural   School  Leaflet. 

Bird  Study 


Feathers  as  Clothing 

Leading  thought — Feathers  grow  from  the  skin  of  a  bird  and  protect 
the  bird  from  rain,  snow,  wind  and  cold.  Some  of  the  feathers  act  as 
cloaks  or  mackintoshes  and  others  as  underclothing. 

Method — The  hen  should  be  at  close  range  for  this  lesson  where  the 
children  may  observe  how  and  where  the  different  kinds  of  feathers  grow. 
The  pupils  should  also  study  separately  the  form  of  a  feather  from  the 
back,  from  the  breast,  from  the  under  side  of  the  body,  and  a  pin-feather. 

Observations  for  pupils — i.  How  are  the  feathers  arranged  on  the 
backof  the  hen?     Are  they  Hke  shingles  on  the  roof  ?     If  so,  what  for? 

2.  How  does  a  hen  look  when  standing  in  the  rain? 

3.  How  are  the  feathers  arranged  on  the  breast? 

4.  Compare  a  feather  from  the  back  and  one  from  the  breast  and 
note  the  difference. 

5.  Are  both  ends  of  these  feathers  alike?  If  not,  what  is  the 

6.  Is  the  fluffy  part  of  the  feather  on  the  outside  or  next  to  the 
bird's  skin  ?     What  is  its  use  ? 

7.  Why  is  the  smooth  part  of  the  feather  (the  web)  on  the  outside? 

8.  Some  feathers  are  all  fluff  and  are  called  "down."  At  what  age 
was  the  fowl  all  covered  with  down  ? 

9.  What  is  a  pin-feather?     What  makes  you  think  so? 

10.  How  do  hens  keep  their  feathers  oily  and  glossy  so  they  will 
shed  water? 

11.  Where  does  the  hen  get  the  oil?  Describe  how  she  oils  her 
feathers  and  which  ones  does  she  oil  most?  Does  she  oil  her  feathers 
before  a  rain? 

"How  beautiful  your  feathers  be!'' 
The  Redbird  sang  to  the  Tulip-tree 

New  garbed  in  autumn  gold. 
"Alas!"  the  bending  branches  sighed, 
"They  cannot  like  your  leaves  abide 

To  keep  us  from  the  cold!" 

—  John  B.  Tabb. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Teacher  s  Story 

HE  ornamental  plumage  of  birds  is  one  of  the 
principal  illvstrations  of  a  great  principle  of  evo- 
lution. The  theory  is  that  the  male  birds  win 
their  mates  because  of  their  beauty,  those  that 
are  not  beautiful  being  doomed  to  live  single 
and  leave  no  progeny  to  inherit  their  dullness. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  successful  wooer  hands 
down  his  beauty  to  his  sons.  However,  another 
quite  different  principle  acts  upon  the  coloring 
of  the  plumage  of  the  mother  birds;  for  if  they  should  develop 
bright  colors  themselves,  they  would  attract  the  eyes  of  the  enemy 
to  their  precious  hidden  nests;  only  by  being  inconspicuous,  are 
they  able  to  protect  their  eggs  and  nestlings  from  discovery  and 
death.  The  mother  partridge,  for  instance,  is  so  nearly  the  color  of  the 
dead  leaves  on  the  ground  about  her,  that  we  may  almost  step  upon  her 
before  we  discover  her;  if  she  were  the  color  of  the  oriole  or  tanager  she 
would  very  soon  be  the  center  of  attraction  to  every  prowler.  Thus,  it 
has  come  about  that  among  the  birds  the  feminine  love  of  beauty  has 
developed  the  gorgeous  colors  of  the  males,  while  the  need  for  protection 
of  the  home  has  kept  the  female  plumage  modest  and  unnoticeable. 

The  curved  feathers  of  the  rooster's  tail  are  weak  and  mobile  and 
could  not  possibly  be  of  any  use  as  a  rudder;  but  they  give  grace  and 
beauty  to  the  fowl  and  cover  the  useful  rudder  feathers  underneath  by  a 
feather  fountain  of  iridescence.  The  neck  plumage  of  the  cock  is  also 
often  luxurious  and  beautiful  in  color  and  quite  different  from  that  of  the 
hen.  Among  the  ducks  the  brilliant  blue-green  iridescent  head  of  the 
drake  and  his  wing  bars  are  beautiful,  and  make  his  wife  seem  Quaker-like 
in  contrast. 

As  an  object  lesson  to  instil  the  idea  that  the  male  bird  is  proud  of  his 
beautiful  feathers,  I  know  of  none  better  than  that  presented  by  the 
turkey  gobbler,  for  he  is  a  living  expression  of  self-conscious  vanity.  He 
spreads  his  tail  to  the  fullest  extent  and  shifts  it  this  way  and  that  to  show 
the  exquisite  play  of  colors  over  the  feathers  in  the  sunlight,  meanwhile 
throwing  out  his  chest  to  call  particular  attention  to  his  blue  and  red 
wattles ;  and  to  keep  from  bursting  with  pride  he  bubbles  over  in  vain- 
glorious "gobbles." 

The  hen  with  her  chicks  and  the  turkey  hen  with  her  brood,  if  they 
follow  their  own  natures,  must  wander  in  the  fields  for  food.  If  they 
were  bright  in  color,  the  hawks  would  soon  detect  them  and  their  chances 
of  escape  would  be  small;  this  is  another  instance  of  the  advantage  to  the 
young  of  adopting  the  colors  of  the  mother  rather  than  of  the  father;  a 
fact  equally  true  of  the  song  birds  in  cases  where  the  males  are  brilliant  in 
color  at  maturity.  The  Baltimore  oriole  does  not  assist  his  mate  in 
brooding,  but  he  sits  somewhere  on  the  home  tree  and  cheers  her  by  his 
glorious  song  and  by  glimpses  of  his  gleaming  orange  coat.  Some  have 
accused  him  of  being  lazy;  on  the  contrary,  he  is  a  wise  householder  for, 
instead  of  attracting  the  attention  of  crow  or  squirrel  to  his  nest,  he  dis- 
tracts their  attention  from  it  by  both  color  and  song. 

A  peacock's  feather  should  really  be  a  lesson  by  itself,  it  is  so  much  a 
thing  of  beauty.     The  brilliant  color  of  the  purple  eye-spot,  and  the  grace- 

Bird  Study 


ful  flowing  barbs  that  form  the  setting  to  the  central  gem,  are  all 
a  training  in  aesthetics  as  well  as  in  nature-study.  After  the 
children  have  studied  such  a 
feather  let  them  see  the  peacock 
either  in  reality  or  in  picture 
and  give  them  stories  about  this 
bird  of  Juno;  a  bird  so  incon- 
spicuous if  it  were  not  for  his 
great  spread  of  tail,  that  a  child 
seeing  it  first  cried,  "Oh,  oh,  see 
this  old  hen  all  in  bloom!" 

The  whole  question  of  sexual 
selection  may  be  made  as  plain 
as  need  be  for  the  little  folks,  by 
simply  telling  them  that  the 
mother  bird  chooses  for  her  mate  the  one  which  is  most  brightly  and 
beautifully  dressed,  and  make  much  of  the  comb  and  wattles  of  the 
rooster  and  gobbler  as  additions  to  the  brilliancy  of  their  appearance. 

Peacock  feathers.     Is  beauty  useful? 


Feathers  as  Ornament 

Leading  thotight — The  color  of  feathers  and  often  their  shape  are  for  the 
purpose  of  making  birds  more  beautiful ;  while  in  others,  the  color  of  the 
feathers  protects  them  from  the  observation  of  their  enemies. 

Methods — While  parts  of  this  lesson  relating  to  fowls,  may  be  given  in 
primary  grades,  it  is  equally  fitted  for  pupils  who  have  a  wider  knowledge 
of  birds.  Begin  with  a  comparison  of  the  plumage  of  the  hen  and  the 
rooster.  Then,  if  possible,  study  the  turkey  gobbler  and  a  peacock  in  life 
or  in  pictures.  Also  the  plumage  of  a  Rouen  duck  and  drake,  and  if 
possible,  the  Baltimore  oriole,  the  goldfinch,  the  scarlet  tanager  and 
the  cardinal. 

Observations — i.  Note  difference  in  shape  and  color  of  the  tail 
feathers  of  hen  and  rooster. 

2.  Do  the  graceful  curved  tail  feathers  of  the  rooster  help  him  in 
flying?     Are  they  stifif  enough  to  act  as  a  rudder? 

3.  If  not  of  use  in  flying  what  are  they  for? 
the  more  beautiful  the  hen  or  the  rooster? 

4.  In  what  respects  is  the  rooster  a  more  beautiful  fowl? 

5.  What  other  parts  of  the  rooster's  plumage  is  more  beautiful  than 
that  of  the  hen? 

6.  If  a  turkey  gobbler  sees  you  looking  at  him  he  begins  to  strut. 
Do  you  think  he  does  this  to  show  off  his  tail  feathers?  Note  how  he 
turns  his  spread  tail  this  way  and  that  so  the  sunshine  will  bring  out  the 
beautiful  changeable  colors.  Do  you  think  he  does  this  so  you  can  see 
and  admire  him? 

7.  Describe  the  difference  in  plumage  between  the  hen  turkey  and 
the  gobbler?     Does  the  hen  turkey  strut? 

8.     Note  the  beautiful  blue-green  iridescent  head  and  wing  patches 

Which  do  vou  think 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

on  the  wings  of  the  Rouen  ducks?     Is  the  drake  more  beautiful  than  the 

9.  What  advantage  is  it  for  these  fowls  to  have  the  father  bird 
more  beautiful  and  bright  in  color  than  the  mother  bird? 

10.  In  case  of  the  Baltimore  oriole  is  the  mother  bird  as  bright  in 
color  as  the  father  bird?     Why? 

11.  Study  a  peacock's  feather.  What  color  is  the  eye-spot?  What 
color  around  that?  What  color  around  that?  What  color  and  shape  are 
the  outside  barbs  of  the  feather?  Do  you  blame  a  peacock  for  being 
proud  when  he  can  spread  a  tail  of  a  hundred  eyes?  Does  the  peahen 
have  such  beautiful  tail  feathers  as  the  peacock? 

Peahens  and  peacocks 

The  bird  of  Juno  glories  in  his  phimes; 

Pride  makes  the  fowl  to  prcene  his  feathers  so. 

His  spotted  train  fetched  from  old  Argus'  head. 

With  golden  rays  like  to  the  brighest  sun, 

Inserteth  self-love  in  the  silly  bird; 

Till  midst  its  hot  and  glorious  fumes 

He  spies  his  feet  and  then  lets  fall  his  plumes. 

— The  Peacock,  Robert  Greene,  (1560), 

Bird  Study 



Teacher's  Story 

'O  convince  the  children  that  a  bird's  wings  correspond 
to  our  arms,  they  should  see  a  fowl  with  its  feathers  off, 
prepared  for  market  or  oven,  and  they  will  infer  the 
fact  at  once. 

The  bird  flies  by  lifting  itself  through  pressing  down  upon  the  air  with 
its  wings.  There  are  several  experiments  which  are  needed  to  make  the 
child  understand  this.  It  is  difficult  for  children  to  conceive  that  the  air 
is  really  anything,  because  they  cannot  see  it;  so  the  first  experiment 
should  be  to  show  that  the  air  is  something  we  can  push  against  or  that 
pushes  against  us.  Strike  the  air  with  a  fan  and  we  feel  there  is  something 
which  the  fan  pushes;  we  feel  the  wind  when  it  is  blowing  and  it  is  very 
difficult  for  us  to  walk  against  a  hard  wind.  If  we  hold  an  open  umbrella 
in  the  hand  while  we  jump  from  a  step  we  feel  buoyed  up  because  the 
umbrella  presses  down  upon  the  air.  The  bird  presses  down  upon  the  air 
with  the  wings,  just  as  the  open  umbrella  does.  The  bird  flies  by  pressing 
down  upon  the  air  with  its  wings  just  as  a  boy  jumps  high  by  pressing 
down  with  his  hands  on  his  vaulting  pole. 

Hen  with  wing  outstretched  showing  primaries  and  secondaries 

of  the  wing  and  the  ovcrlappi)ig  of  the  feathers. 

From  practical  exercise  on  feathers  by  Prof.   J.    E.  Rice  in  Rural 

School  Leaflet. 

34  Handbook  of  N atiire-SUidy 

Study  wing  and  note :  (a)  That  the  wings  open  and  close  at  the 
will  of  the  bird,  (b)  That  the  feathers  open  and  shut  on  each  other  like  a 
fan.  (c)  When  the  wing  is  open  the  wing  quills  overlap,  so  that  the  air 
cannot  pass  through  them,  (d)  When  the  wing  is  open  it  is  curved  so 
that  it  is  more  efficient,  for  the  same  reason  that  an  umbrella  presses 
harder  against  the  atmosphere  when  it  is  open  than  when  it  is  broken  by 
the  wind  and  turned  wrong  side  out. 

A  wing  feather  has  the  barbs  on  the  front  edge  lying  almost  parallel  to 
the  quill  while  those  on  the  hind  edge  come  off  at  a  wide  angle.  The 
reason  for  this  is  easy  to  see,  for  this  feather  has  to  cut  the  air  as  the  bird 
flies;  and  if  the  barbs  on  the  front  side  were  like  those  of  the  other  side 
they  would  be  torn  apart  by  the  wind.  The  barbs  on  the  hind  side  of  the 
feather  form  a  strong,  close  web  so  as  to  press  down  on  the  air  and  not  let 
it  through.  The  wing  quill  is  curved;  the  convex  side  is  up  and  the  con- 
cave side  below  during  flight.  The  concave  side,  like  the  umbrella, 
catches  more  air  than  the  upper  side ;  the  down  stroke  of  the  wing  is  for- 
ward and  down;  while  on  the  up  stroke,  as  the  wing  is  lifted,  it  bends  at 
the  joint  like  a  fan  turned  sidewise,  and  offers  less  surface  to  resist  the  air. 
Thus,  the  up  stroke  does  not  push  the  bird  down. 

Observations  should  be  made  on  the  use  of  the  bird's  tail  in  flight. 
The  hen  spreads  her  tail  like  a  fan  when  she  flies  to  the  top  of  the  fence; 
the  robin  does  likewise  when  in  flight.  The  fact  that  the  tail  is  used  as  a 
rudder  to  guide  the  bird  in  flight,  as  well  as  to  give  more  surface  for 
pressing  down  upon  the  air,  is  hard  for  the  younger  pupils  to  understand, 
and  perhaps  can  be  best  taught  by  watching  the  erratic  unbalanced  flight 
of  young  birds  whose  tail  feathers  are  not  yet  grown. 

The  tail  feather  differs  from  the  wing  feather  in  that  the  quill  is  not 
curved,  and  the  barbs  on  each  side  are  of  about  equal  length  and  lie  at 
about  the  same  angle  on  each  side  the  quill.     See  Fig.    p.  28. 

References — The  Bird  Book,  Eckstorm,  pp.  75-92;  Story  of  the 
Birds,  Baskett,  pp.  171-176;  Bird  Life,  Chapman,  p.  18;  The  Bird, 
Beebe,  Ch.  XIII;   First  Book  of  Birds,  Miller. 


How  Birds  Fly 

Leading  thought — A  bird  flies  by  pressing  down  upon  the  air  with  its 
wings,  which  are  made  especially  for  this  purpose.  The  bird's  tail  acts  as 
a  rudder  during  flight. 

Method — The  hen,  it  is  hoped  will  by  this  time  be  tame  enough  so  that 
the  teacher  may  spread  open  her  wings  for  the  children  to  see.  In  addi- 
tion, have  a  detached  wing  of  a  fowl  such  as  are  used  in  farm  houses 
instead  of  a  whisk-broom. 

Observations — i.  Do  you  think  a  bird's  wings  correspond  to  our 
arms?     If  so  why? 

2.  Why  do  birds  flap  their  wings  when  they  start  to  fly? 

3.  Can  you  press  against  the  air  with  a  fan? 

4.  Why  do  you  jump  so  high  with  a  vaulting  pole?  Do  you  think 
the  bird  uses  the  air  as  you  use  the  pole? 

5.  How  are  the  feathers  arranged  on  the  wing  so  that  the  bird  can 
use  it  to  press  down  on  the  air? 

Bird  Study 


6.  If  you  carry  an  umbrella  on  a  windy  morning,  which  catches 
more  wind,  the  under  or  the  top  side?  Why  is  this?  Does  the  curved 
surface  of  the  wing  act  in  the  same  way? 

7.  Take  a  wing  feather.  Are  the  barbs  as  long  on  one  side  of  the 
quill  as  on  the  other?  Do  they  lie  at  the  same  angle  from  the  quill  on 
both  sides  ?     If  not  why  ? 

8.  Which  side  of  the  quill  lies  on  the  outer  side  and  which  on  the 
inner  side  of  the  wing? 

9.  Is  the  quill  of  the  feather  curved? 

10.  Which  side  is  uppermost  in  the  wing,  the  convex  or  the  concave 
side?  Take  a  quill  in  one  hand  and  press  the  tip  against  the  other. 
Which  way  does  it  bend  easiest,  toward  the  convex  or  the  concave  side? 
What  had  this  to  do  with  the  flight  of  the  bird  ? 

11.  If  the  bird  flies  by  pressing  the  wings  against  the  air  on 
the  down  stroke,  why  does  it  not  push  itself  downward  with  its 
wings  on  the  up  stroke? 

12.  What  is  the  shape  and  arrangement  of  the  feathers  so  as  to 
avoid  pushing  the  bird  back  to  earth  when  it  lifts  its  wings? 

13.  Why  do  you  have  a  rudder  to  a  boat? 

14.  Do  you  think  a  bird  could  sail  through  the  air  without  some- 
thing  to    steer  with?     What  is  the    bird's  rudder? 

15.  Have  you  ever  seen  a  young  bird  whose  tail  is  not  yet  grown, 
try  to  fly?     If  so,  how  did  it  act? 

16.  Does  the  hen  when  she  flies  keep  the  tail  closed  or  open  like 
a  fan? 

1 7 .  Compare  a  tail  feather  with  a  wing  feather  and  describe  the 

Engraved  by  Elsa  L.  Ames. 

36  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


TeacJier's  Story 

HE  hen's  eyes  are  placed  at  the  side  of  the  head  so  that 
she  cannot  see  the  same  object  with  both  eyes  at  the 
same  time,  and  thus  she  has  the  habit  of  looking  at  us 
first  with  one  eye  and  then  the  other  to  be  sure  she 
sees  correctly;  also  the  position  of  the  hen's  eyes  give 
her  a  command  of  her  entire  environment.  All  birds 
have  much  keener  eyes  than  have  we;  and  they  can 
adjust  their  eyes  for  either  near  or  far  vision  much 
more  effectively  than  we  can ;  the  hawk,  flying  high  in  the  air,  can  see 
the  mouse  on  the  ground. 

There  is  a  wide  range  of  colors  found  in  the  eyes  of  birds;  white,  red 
blue,  yellow,  brown,  gray,  pink,  purple  and  green  are  found  in  the  iris  of 
different  species.  The  hen's  eye  consists  of  a  black  pupil  at  the  center, 
which  must  always  be  black  in  any  eye,  since  it  is  a  hole  through  which 
enters  the  image  of  the  object.  The  iris  of  the  hen's  eye  is  yeUow;  there 
is  apparently  no  upper  lid  but  the  lower  hd  comes  up  during  the  process  of 
sleeping.  When  the  bird  is  drowsy  the  little  film  lid  comes  out  from  the 
corner  of  the  eye  and  spreads  over  it  like  a  veil;  just  at  the  corner  of  our 
own  eye,  next  the  nose,  is  the  remains  of  this  film  Hd,  although  we  cannot 
move  it  as  the  hen  does. 

The  hearing  of  birds  is  very  acute,  although  the  ear  is  simply  a  hole  in 
the  side  of  the  head  in  most  cases,  and  is  more  or  less  covered  with 
feathers.  The  hen's  ear  is  like  this  in  many  varieties;  but  in  others  and 
in  the  roosters  there  are  ornamental  ear  lobes. 

Eyes  and  Ears  of  Birds 

Leading  thought — The  eyes  and  ears  of  birds  are  peculiar  and  very 

Methods — The  hen  or  chicken  and  the  rooster  should  be  observed  for 
this  lesson ;  notes  may  be  made  in  the  poultry  yard  or  in  the  schoolroom 
when  the  birds  are  brought  there  for  study. 

Observations — i .  Why  does  the  hen  turn  her  head  first  this  side  and 
that  as  she  looks  at  you?  Can  she  see  an  object  with  both  eyes  at  once? 
Can  she  see  well? 

2.  How  many  colors  are  there  in  a  hen's  eye?  Describe  the  pupil 
and  the  iris. 

3.  Does  the  hen  wink  as  we  do?     Has  she  any  eyehds? 

4.  Can  you  see  the  film  hd?  Does  it  come  from  above  or  below  or 
the  inner  or  outer  comer?     When  do  you  see  this  film  lid? 

5.  Where  are  the  hen's  ears?  How  do  they  look?  How  can  you 
tell  where  the  rooster's  ears  are? 

6.  Do  you  think  the  hen  can  see  and  hear  well? 

Bird  Study  37 


Teacher's  Story 

INCE  the  bird  uses  its  arms  and  hands  for  flying,  it 
has  been  obhged  to  develop  other  organs  to  take 
their  place,  and  of  their  work  the  beak  does  its  full 
hare.  It  is  well  to  emphasize  this  point  by  letting 
she  children  at  recess  play  the  game  of  trying  to  eat 
tan  apple  or  to  put  up  their  books  and  pencils  with 
their  arms  tied  behind  them;  such  an  experiment 
will  show  how  naturally  the  teeth  and  feet  come  to  the  aid  when  the 
hands   are  useless. 

The;  hen  feeds  upon  seeds  and  insects  which  she  finds  on  or  in  the 
ground  her  beak  is  horny  and  sharp  and  acts  not  only  as  a  pair  of  nip- 
pers, but  also  as  a  pick  as  she  strikes  it  into  the  soil  to  get  the  seed  or 
insect,  having  already  made  bare  the  place  by  scratching  away  the  grass 
or  surface  of  the  soil  with  her  strong,  stubby  toes.  The  hen  does  not  have 
any  teeth,  nor  does  she  need  any,  for  her  sharp  beak  enables  her  to  seize 
her  food;  and  she  does  not  need  to  chew  it,  since  her  gizzard  does  this  for 
her  after  the  food  is  swallowed. 

The  duck's  bill  is  broad,  flat,  and  much  softer  than  the  hen's  beak. 
The  duck  feeds  upon  water  insects  and  plants;  it  attains  these  by  thrust- 
ing its  head  down  into  the  water,  seizing  the  food  and  holding  it  fast  while 
the  water  is  strained  out  through  the  sieve  at  the  edges  of  the  beak ;  for 
this  use,  a  wide,  flat  beak  is  necessary.  It  would  be  quite  as  impossible 
for  a  duck  to  pick  up  hard  seeds  with  its  broad,  soft  bill  as  it  would  for 
the  hen  to  get  the  duck's  food  out  of  the  water  with  her  narrow,  horny 

Both  the  duck  and  hen  use  their  bills  for  cleaning  and  oiling  their 
feathers  and  for  fighting  also ;  the  hen  strikes  a  sharp  blow  with  her  beak 
making  a  wound  like  a  dagger,  while  the  duck  seizes  the  enemy  and 
simply  pinches  hard.  Both  fowls  also  use  their  beaks  for  turning  over  the 
eggs  when  incubating,  and  also  as  an  aid  to  the  feet  when  they  make  nests 
for  themselves. 

The  nostrils  are  very  noticeable  and  are  situated  in  the  beak  near  the 
base.  However,  we  do  not  believe  that  birds  have  a  keen  sense  of  smell 
since  their  nostrils  are  not  surrounded  by  a  damp,  sensitive,  soft  surface 
as  are  the  nostrils  of  the  deer  and  dog,  this  arrangement  aiding  these 
animals  to  detect  odor  in  a  marvelous  manner. 

The  Beak  of  a  Bird 

Leading  thought — Each  kind  of  bird  has  a  beak  especially  adapted  for 
getting  its  food.  The  beak  and  feet  of  a  bird  are  its  chief  weapons  and 

Methods — Study  first  the  beak  of  the  hen  or  chick  and  then  that  of 
the  duckling  or  gosling. 

Observations — i.  What  kind  of  food  does  the  hen  eat  and  where  and 
how  does  she  find  it  in  the  field  or  gaiden?  How  is  her  beak  adapted  to 
get  this  food?  If  her  beak  were  soft  like  that  of  a  duck  could  she  peck  so 
hard  for  seeds  and  worms?     Has  the  hen  any  teeth?     Does  she  need  any? 

38  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

2.  Compare  the  bill  of  the  hen  with  that  of  the  duck?  What  are 
the  differences  in  shape?     Which  is  the  harder? 

3.  Note  the  saw  teeth  along  the  edge  of  the  duck's  bill.  Are  these 
for  chewing?  Do  they  act  as  a  strainer?  Why  does  the  duck  need  to 
strain  its  food? 

4.  Could  a  duck  pick  up  a  hen's  food  from  the  earth  or  the  hen 
strain  out  a  duck's  food  from  the  water?  For  what  other  things  than 
getting  food  do  these  fowls  use  their  bills? 

5.  Can  you  see  the  nostrils  in  the  bill  of  a  hen?  Do  they  show 
plainer  in  the  duck?  Do  you  think  the  hen  can  smell  as  keenly  as  the 

Supplementary  reading — The  Bird  Book,  p.  99;  The  First  Book  of 
Birds,  pp.  95-7;   Mother  Nature's  Children,  Chapter  VIII. 

"It  is  said  that  nature-study  teaching  should  be  accurate,  a  statement  that  every  good 
teacher  will  admit  without  debate;  but  accuracy  is  often  interpreted  to  mean  complete- 
ness, and  then  tJie  statement  cannot  pass  unchallenged.  To  study  'the  dandelion,'  'the 
robin,'  ivith  emphasis  on  the  particle  'the',  working  out  the  complete  structure,  may  be 
good  laboratory  work  i)i  botany  or  zoology  for  advanced  pupils,  but  it  is  not  an  elemen- 
tary educational  process.  It  contributes  nothing  more  to  accuracy  than  does  the  natural 
order  of  leaving  untouched  all  those  phases  of  the  subject  that  are  out  of  the  child's  reach; 
while  it  may  take  out  the  life  and  spirit  of  the  work,  and  the  spiritual  quality  may  be 
the  very  part  that  is  -most  wortli  the  while.  Oilier  ivork  may  provide  the  formal  'drill' ; 
this  should  supply  the  quality  and  vivacity.  Teachers  often  say  to  me  that  their 
children  have  done  excellent  work  with  these  complete  methods,  and  they  show  me  the 
essays  and  drawings;  but  this  is  no  proof  that  the  work  is  commendable.  Children 
can  be  made  to  do  many  things  that  they  ought  not  to  do  and  that  lie  beyond  them.  We 
all  need  to  go  to  school  to  children." — "The  Outlook  to  Nature,"  L.  H.  Bailey. 

"Weather  and  wind  and  waning  moon. 

Plain  and  hilltop  under  the  sky, 
Ev'nijig,  morning  and  blazing  noon, 

Brother  of  all  the  ivorld  am  I . 
The  pine-tree,  linden  and  the  maize. 

The  insect,  squirrel  and  the  kine. 
All — natively  they  live  their  days — 

As  they  live  theirs,  so  I  live  mine, 
I  know  not  where,  I  know  not  what: — 

Believing  none  and  doubting    none 
What'er  befalls  it  counteth  not, — 

Nature  and  Time  and  I  are  one." 

— L.  H.  Bailey. 

Bird  Study 



Teacher's  Story 

BVIOUSLY,  the  hen  is  a  digger  of  the  soil;  her  claws 
are  long,  strong  and  slightly  hooked,  and  her  feet 
and  legs  are  covered  with  homy  scales  as  a  protec- 
tion from  injury  when  used  in  scratching  the  hard 
earth,  in  order  to  lay  bare  the  seeds  and  insects 
hiding  there.  The  hen  is  a  very  good  runner  indeed. 
She  lifts  her  wings  a  little  to  help,  much  as  an 
athletic  runner  uses  his  arms,  and  so  can  cover 
ground  with  amazing  rapidity,  her  strong  toes  giv- 
ing her  a  firm  foothold.  The  track  she  makes  is 
very  characteristic;  it  consists  of  three  toe-marks 
projecting  forward  and  one  backward.  A  bird's 
toes  are  numbered  thus: 
A  duck 
has  the  same  number  of  toes  as 
the  hen,  but  there  is  a  membrane, 
called  the  web,  which  joins  the 
second,  third  and  fourth  toes,  mak- 
ing a  fan-shaped  foot;  the  first  or 
the  hind  toe  has  a  little  web  of  its 
own.  A  webbed  foot  is  first  of  all 
a  paddle  for  propelling  its  owner 
through  the  water;  it  is  also  a  very  useful  foot  on  the  shores  of  ponds 
and  streams,  since  its  breadth  and  flatness  prevent  it  from  sinking  into 
the  soft  mud. 

The  duck's  legs  are  shorter  than  those  of  the  hen  and  are  placed  farther 
back  and  wider  apart.  The  reason  for  this  is,  they  are  essentially  swim- 
ming organs  and  are  not  fitted  for  scratching  nor  for  running.  They  are 
placed  at  the  sides  of  the  bird's  body  so  that  they  may  act  as  paddles,  and 
are  farther  back  so  that  they  may  act  like  the  wheel  of  a  propeller  in 

Duck's  foot  and  hen's  foot  with 
toes  numbered. 

Rouen  ducks.     The  Rouens  arc  colored  like  the  Wild  Mallards. 

40  Haiidbook  of  Nature-Sttidy 

pushing  the  bird  along.  We  often  laugh  at  a  duck  on  land,  since  its  short 
legs  are  so  far  apart  and  so  far  back  that  its  walk  is  necessarily  an  awk- 
ward waddle;  but  we  must  always  remember  that  the  duck  is  naturally 
a  water  bird,  and  on  the  water  its  movements  are  graceful.  Think  once, 
how  a  hen  would  appear  if  she  attempted  to  swim!  The  duck's  body  is 
so  illy  balanced  on  its  short  legs  that  it  cannot  run  rapidly;  and  if  chased 
even  a  short  distance,  will  fall  dead  from  the  effort,  as  many  a  country 
child  has  discovered  to  his  sorrow  when  he  tried  to  drive  the  ducks  home 
from  the  creek  or  pond  to  coop.  The  long,  hind  claw  of  the  hen  enables 
her  to  clasp  a  roost  firmly  during  the  night;  a  duck's  foot  could  not  do 
this  and  the  duck  sleeps  squatting  on  the  ground.  However,  the  Mus- 
covy ducks,  which  are  not  good  swimmers,  have  been  known  to  perch. 

The  ,Feet  of  Birds 

Leading  thought — The  feet  of _^birds  are  shaped  so  as  to  assist  the  bird  in 
getting  its  food  as  well  as  for  locomotion. 

MetJiods — The  pupils  should  have  opportunity  to  observe  the  chicken 
or  hen  and  a  duck  as  they  move  about;  they  should  also  observe  the 
duck  swimming. 

Observations — i.  Are  the  toes  of  the  hen  long  and  strong?  Have 
they  long,  sharp  claws  at  their  tips? 

2 .  How  are  the  legs  and  feet  of  the-hen  covered  and  protected ? 

3.  How  are  the  hen's  feet  and  legs  fitted  for  scratching  the  earth, 
and  why  does  she  wish  to  scratch  the  earth? 

4.  Can  a  hen  run  rapidly?     AVhat  sort  of  a  track  does  she  make? 

5.  You  number  your  fingers  with  the  thumb  as  number  one  and  the 
little  finger  as  five.     How  do  you  think  the  hen's  toes  are  numbered? 

6.  Has  the  duck  as  many  toes  as  the  hen?  What  is  the  chief 
difference  between  the  feet  of  the  duck  and  the  hen  ? 

7.  Which  of  the  duck's  toes  are  connected  by  a  web?  Does  the 
web  extend  to  the  tips  of  the  toes?  What  is  the  web  for  and  how  does  it 
help  the  duck  ? 

8.  Are  the  duck's  legs  as  long  as  the  hen's?  Are  they  placed 
farther  forward  or  farther  back  than  those  of  the  hen?  Are  they  farther 

9.  Can  a  duck  run  as  well  as  a  hen?     Can  the  hen  swim  at  all? 

10.  Where  does  the  hen  sleep  and  how  does  she  hold  on  to  her 
perch?  Could  the  duck  hold  on  to  a  perch?  Does  the  duck  need  to 
perch  while  sleeping? 

Bird  SUidy 



Teacher's  Story 

AME  Nature  certainly  pays  close  attention  to  details, 
and  an  instance  of  this  is  the  little  tooth  on  the  tip  of 
the  upper  mandible  of  the  young  chick  to  aid  it  in 
breaking  out  of  its  egg-shell  prison ;  and  since  a  tooth 
in  this  particular  place  is  of  no  use  later,  it  disappears. 
The  children  are  delighted  with  the  beauty  of  a  fluffy, 
little  chick  with  its  bright,  questioning  eyes  and  its  life 
of  activity  as  soon  as  it  is  freed  from  the  shell.  What 
a  contrast  to  the  blind,  bare,  scrawny  young  robin, 
which  seems  to  be  all  mouth !  The  difference  between 
the  two  is  fundamental  since  it  gives  a  character  for  separating  ground 
birds  perching  birds.  The  young  partridge,  quail,  turkey  and  chick 
are  clothed  and  active  and  ready  to  go  with  the  mother  in  search  of  food 
as  soon  as  they  are  hatched;  while  the  young  of  the  perching  birds  are 
naked  and  blind,  being  kept  warm  by  the  brooding  mother,  and  fed  and 
nourished  by  food  brought  by  their  parents,  until  they  are  large  enough  to 
leave  the  nest.  The  down  which  covers  the  young  chick  differs  from  the 
feathers  which  come  later;  the  down  has  no  quill  but  consists  of  several 
flossy  threads  coming  from  the  same  root;  later  on,  this  down  is  pushed 
out  and  off  by  the  true  feathers  which  grow  from  the  same  sockets.     The 

An  anxious  stepmother. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

pupils  should  see  that  the  down  is  so  soft  that  the  little,  fluffy  wings  of  the 
chick  are  useless  until  the  real  wing  feathers  appear. 

We  chew  food  until  it  is  soft  and  fine,  then  swallow  it,  but  the  chick 
swallows  it  whole  and  after  being  softened  by  juices  from  the  stomach  it 
passes  into  a  little  mill,  in  which  is  gravel  that  the  chicken  has  swallowed, 
which  helps  to  grind  the  food.  This  mill  is  called  the  gizzard  and  the 
pupils  should  be  taught  to  look  carefully  at  this  organ  the  next  time  they 
have  chicken  for  dinner.  A  chicken  has  no  muscles  in  the  throat,  like 
ours,  to  enable  it  to  swallow  water  as  we  do.     Thus,  it  has  first  to  fill  its 

. .  ,^Bf^M^U(^:l^^^h.^-^~^^'^..^<^j%, 



beak  with  water,  then  hold  it  up  so  the  water  will  flow  down  the  throat  of 
itself.  As  long  as  the  little  chick  has  its  mother's  wings  to  sleep  under,  it 
does  not  need  to  put  its  head  under  its  own  wing;  but  when  it  grows  up 
and  spends  the  night  upon  a  roost,  it  always  tuck»  its  head  under  its  wing 
while  sleeping. 

The  conversation  of  the  barnyard  fowl  covers  many  elemental  emo- 
tions and  is  easily  comprehended.  It  is  well  for  the  children  to  under- 
stand from  the  first  that  the  notes  of  birds  mean  something  definite.  The 
hen  clucks  when  she  is  leading  her  chicks  afield  so  that  they  will  know 
where  she  is  in  the  tall  grass;  the  chicks  follow  "cheeping"  or  "peeping," 
as  the  children  say,  so  that  she  will  know  where  they  are ;  but  if  a  chick 

bird  Study 


feels  itself  lost  its  "peep"  becomes  loud  and  disconsolate;  on  the  other 
hand,  there  is  no  sound  in  the  world  so  full  of  cosy  contentment  as  the  low 
notes  of  the  chick  as  it  cuddles  under  the  mother's  wing.  When  a  hen 
finds  a  bit  of  food  she  utters  rapid  notes  which  call  the  chicks  in  a  hurry, 
and  when  she  sees  a  hawk  she  gives  a  warning  "q-r-r"  which  makes  every 
chick  run  for  cover  and  keep  quiet.  When  hens  are  taking  their  sun  and 
dust  baths  together,  they  evidently  gossip  and  we  can  almost  hear  them 
saying,  "Did  you  not  think  Madam  Dorking  made  a  great  fuss  over  her  egg 
to-day?"  Or,  "that  overgrown  young  rooster  has  got  a  crow  to  match  his 
legs,  has  he  not?"  Contrast  these  low  tones  to  the  song  of  the  hen  as  she 
issues  forth  in  the  first  warm  days  of  spring  and  gives  to  the  world  one  of 
the  most  joyous  songs  of  all  nature.  There  is  quite  a  different  quality  in 
the  triumphant  cackle  of  a  hen  telling  to  the  world  that  she  has  laid  an 
egg  and  the  cackle  which  comes  from  being  startled.  When  a  hen  is 
sitting  or  is  not  allowed  to  sit,  she  is  nervous  and  irri  able  and  voices  her 
mental  state  by  scolding.  When  she  is  really  afraid,  she  squalls  and  when 
seized  by  an  enemy,  she  utters  long,  horrible  squawks.  The  rooster 
crows  to  assure  his  flock  that  all  is  well;  he  also  crows  to  show  other 
roosters  what  he  thinks  of  himself  and  of  them.  The  rooster  also  has 
other  notes ;  he  will  question  you  as  you  approach  him  and  his  flock,  and 
he  will  give  a  warning  note  when  he  sees  a  hawk;  when  he  finds  some 
dainty  tidbit  he  calls  his  flock  of  hens  to  him  and  they  usually  arrive  just  in 
time  to  see  him  swallow  the  morsel. 

When  roosters  fight,  they  confront  each  other  with  their  heads  lowered 
and  then  try  to  seize  each  other  by  the  back  of  the  neck  with  their  beaks, 
or  strike  each  other  with  the  wing  spurs,  or  tear  with  the  leg  spurs. 
Weasels,  skunks,  rats,  hawks  and  crows  are  the  most  common  enemies  of 
the  fowls,  and  often  a  rooster  will  attack  one  of  these  invaders  and  fight 
vaHantly;  the  hen  will  also  fight  if  her  brood  is  disturbed. 

*^WeU,  who  are  you?" 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 




Chicken  Ways 

Leading  thought — Chickens  have  interesting  habits  of  Hfe  and  extensive 
conversational  powers. 

Method — For  this  lesson  it  is  necessary  that  the  pupils  observe  the 
inhabitants  of  the  poultry  yard  and  answer  these  questions  a  few  at  a 

Observations — i.  Did  the  chick  get  out  of  the  egg  by  its  own  efforts? 
For  what  use  is  the  little  tooth  which  is  on  the  tip  of  the  upper  part  of  a 
young  chicken's  beak?     Does  this  remain? 

2.  What  is  the  difference  between  the  down  of  the  chick  and  the 
feathers  of  the  hen ?     The  little  chick  has  wings;  why  can  it  not  fly ? 

3.  Why  is  the  chick  just  hatched  so  pretty  and  downy,  while  the 
young  robin  is  so  bare  and  ugly?  Why  is  the  young  chick  able  to  see 
while  the  young  robin  is  blind? 

4.  How  does  the  3^oung  chick  get  its  food? 
Does  the  chick  chew  its  food  before  swallowing?     If  not,  why? 
How  does  the  chick  drink?     Why  does  it  drink  this  way? 
Where  does  the  chick  sleep  at  night?     Where  will  it  sleep  when 

it  is  grown  up  ? 

8.  Where  does  the  hen  put  her  head  when  she  is  sleeping? 

9.  How  does  the  hen  call  her  chicks  when  she  is  with  them  in  the 

How  does  she  call  them  to  food? 

How  does  she  tell  them  that  there  is  a  hawk  in  sight? 

12.  What  notes  does  the  chick 
make  when  it  is  following  its 
mother?  When  it  gets  lost? 
When  it  cuddles  under  her  wing? 

13.  What  does  the  hen  say 
when  she  has  laid  an  egg?  When 
she  is  frightened?  When  she  is 
disturbed  while  sitting  on  eggs? 
When  she  is  grasped  by  an  enemy  ? 
How  do  hens  talk  together?  De- 
scribe a  hen's  song. 

14.  When  does  the  rooster 
crow?  What  other  sounds  does 
he  make? 

15.  With  what  weapons  does 
the  rooster  fight  his  rivals  and  his 

16.  What  are  the  natural 
enemies  of  the  barnyard  fowls  and 

Parts  of  the  bird  labeled.  how  do  they  escape  them? 

This  figure  should  be  placed  on  the  blackboard         Supplementary    reading — T  r  U  6 

where  pupils  may  consult  it  when  studying  t,-     1    r^,        ■  tvt'ii 

colors  and  markings  of  birds.  Bird   StOHCS,    Miller  p.    I0  2. 


Bird  Study 


Pigeon  houses  of  the  upper  Nile. 
Photo  by  J.  H.  Comstock. 


Teacher's  Story 

'HERE  is  a  mention  of  domesticated  pigeons  by  writers 
three  thousand  years  ago ;  and  PUny  relates  that  the 
Romans  were  fervent  pigeon  fanciers  at  the  beginning 
of  the  Christian  era.  All  of  our  domestic  varieties  of 
pigeons  have  been  developed  from  the  Rock  pigeon,  a 
wild  species  common  in  Europe  and  Asia.  The  carrier 
pigeon  was  probably  the  first  to  be  specially  developed 
because  of  its  usefulness ;  its  love  and  devotion  to  mate 
and  young  and  its  homesickness  when  separated  from  them  were  used  by 
man  for  his  own  interests.  When  a  knight  of  old  started  off  on  a 
Crusade  or  to  other  wars,  he  took  with  him  several  pigeons  from  the  home 
cote ;  and  after  riding  many  days  he  wrote  a  letter  and  tied  it  to  the  neck 
or  under  the  wing  of  one  of  his  birds,  which  he  then  set  free,  and  it  flew 
home  with  its  message;  later  he  would  set  free  another  in  like  manner. 
The  drawback  to  this  correspondence  was  that  it  went  only  in  one  direc- 
tion; no  bird  from  home  brought  message  of  cheer  to  the  wandering 
knight.  Now-a-days  mail  routes,  telegraph  wires  and  wireless  currents 
enmesh  our  globe  and  the  pigeon  as  a  carrier  is  out-of-date;  but  fanciers 
still  perfect  the  homer  breed  and  train  pigeons  for  very  difficult  flight 
competitions,  some  of  them  a  distance  of  hundreds  of  miles.  Recently 
a  homer  made  one  thousand  miles  in  two  days,  five  hours  and  fifty 
minutes.  Read  to  the  pupils  "Arnaux"  in  Animal  Heroes  by  Thompson 
Seton  to  give  them  an  idea  of  the  life  of  a  homing  pigeon. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The    natural    food    of    pigeons     is  grain;    we    feed    them    cracked 
corn,   wheat,  peas,  Kafir  corn,  millet  and  occasionally    hemp   seed;   it 

is  best  to  feed  mixed  rations 
as  the  birds  tire  of  the 
monotonous  diet.  Pigeons 
should  be  fed  twice  a  day; 
the  pigeon  is  the  only  bird 
which  can  drink  like  a 
horse,  that  is,  with  the 
head  lowered.  The  walk 
of  a  pigeon  is  accom- 
panied by  a  peculiar  nod- 
ding as  if  the  head  were  in 
some  way  attached  to  the 
feet,  and  this  movement 
sends  waves  of  iridescent 
colors  over  the  bird's 
plumage.  The  flight  of  the 
pigeon  is  direct  without 
soaring,  the  wings  move 
rapidly  and  steadily,  the 
birds  circling  and  sailing  as 
"Game  Leg"  a  homer  pigeon  of  notable  achievement  they  start  or  alight.  The 
(Courtesy  of  Country  Life  in  America.)  CrOW   flaps   hard     and    then 

sails  for  a  distance  when 
it  is  inspecting  the  ground,  while  the  hawk  soars  on  motionless 
wings.  It  requires  closer  attention  to  understand  the  language  of  the 
pigeon  than  that  of  the  hen,  nor  has  it  so  wide  a  range  of  expression  as 
the  latter;  however,  some  emotions  are  voiced  in  the  cooing,  v/hich  the 
children  will  understand. 

The  nest  is  built  of  grass  and  twigs;  the  mother  pigeon  lays  two  eggs 
for  a  sitting;  but  in  some  breeds  a  pair  will  raise  from  seven  to  twelve 
broods  per  year.  The  eggs  hatch  in  from  sixteen  to  eighteen  days,  and 
both  parents  share  the  labors  of  incubating.  In  the  case  of  the  homer 
the  father  bird  sits  from  lo  a.  m.  to  4  p.  m.  and  the  mother  the  remainder 
of  the  day  and  night.  The  devotion  of  pigeons  to  their  mates  and  to  their 
young  is  great,  and  has  been  sung  by  the  poets  and  praised  by  the  philoso- 
phers during  many  ages ;  some  breeds  mate  for  life.  The  young  pigeons 
or  squabs  are  fed  in  a  peculiar  manner;  in  the  crops  of  both  parents  is 
secreted  a  cheesy  substance,  known  as  pigeon  milk.  The  parent  seizes 
the  beak  of  the  squab  in  its  own  and  pumps  the  food  from  its  own  crop 
into  the  stomach  of  the  young.  This  nutritious  food  is  given  to  the  squalD 
for  about  five  days  and  then  replaced  by  grain  which  is  softened  in  the 
parents'  stomachs,  until  the  squabs  are  old  enough  to  feed  themselves. 
Rats,  mice,  weasels,  and  hawks  are  the  chief  enemies  of  the  pigeons; 
since  pigeons  cannot  fight,  their  only  safety  lies  in  flight. 

As  the  original  Rock  pigeon  built  in  caves,  our  domesticated  varieties 
naturally  build  in  the  houses  we  provide  for  them.  A  pigeon  house 
should  not  be  built  for  more  than  fifty  pairs ;  it  should  be  well  ventilated 
and  kept  clean;  it  should  face  the  south  or  east  and  be  near  a  shallow, 
running  stream  if  possible.  The  nest  boxes  should  be  twelve  inches 
square     and     nine  inches    in    height    with   a   door   at   one    side,    so 

Bird   Stitdy 


that  the  nest  may  remain  hidden.  In  front  of  each  door  there 
should  be  a  little  shelf  to  act  as  a  balcony  on  which  the  resting  parent  bird 
may  sit  and  coo  to 
relieve  the  monotony 
of  the  sitter.  Some 
breeders  make  a 
double  compartment 
instead  of  providing  a 
balcony,  while  in 
Egypt  branches  are 
inserted  in  the  wall 
just  below  the  doors 
of  the  very  ornamen- 
tal pigeon  houses. 
The  houses  should  be 
kept  clean  and  white- 
washed with  lime 
to  which  carbolic  acid 
is  added  in  the  pro- 
portion of  one  tea-  Poiiter  pigeons 
spoonful  of  acid  to  two                                                      P^oto  t.y  J.  Demary 

gallons  of  the  wash;  the  leaf  stems  of  tobacco  should  be  given  to  the 
pigeons  as  material  for  building  their  nests,  so  as  to  help  keep  in  check  the 
bird  lice.  There  should  be  near  the  pigeon  house  plenty  of  fresh  water 
for  drinking  and  bathing;  also  a  box  of  table  salt,  and  another  of  cracked 
oyster  shell  and  another  of  charcoal  as  fine  as  ground  coffee.  Salt  is  very 
essential  to  the  health  of  pigeons.  The  house  should  be  high  enough  from 
the  ground  to  keep  the  inmates  safe  from  rats  and  weasels. 



Leading  thought — The  pigeons  differ  in  appearance  from  other  birds 
and  also  in  their  actions.  Their  nesting  habits  are  very  interesting  and 
there  are  many  things  that  may  be  done  to  make  the  pigeons  comfortable. 
They  were,  in  ancient  days,  used  as  letter  carriers. 

Methods — If  there  are  pigeons  kept  in  the  neighborhood,  it  is  best  to 
encourage  the  pupils  to  observe  these  birds  out-of-doors.  Begin  the 
work  with  an  interesting  story  and  with  a  few  questions  which  will  arouse 
the  pupils'  interest  in  the  birds.  A  pigeon  in  a  cage  in  the  schoolroom  for 
a  special  lesson  on  the  bird's  appearance,  is  desirable  but  not  necessary. 

Observations — i.  For  an  out-of-door  exercise  during  recess  let  the 
pupils  observe  the  pigeon  and  tell  the  colors  of  the  beak,  eyes,  top  of  the 
head,  back,  breast,  wings,  tail,  feet  and  claws.  This  exercise  is  excellent 
training  to  fit  the  pupils  to  note  quickly  the  colors  of  the  wild  birds. 

2.  On  what  do  pigeons  feed?     Are  they  fond  of  salt? 

3.  Describe  how  a  pigeon  drinks.  How  does  it  differ  in  this  respect 
from  other  birds? 

4.  Describe  the  peculiar  movement  of  the  pigeon  when  walking. 

5.  Describe  the  pigeon's  flight.  Is  it  rapid,  high  in  the  air,  do  the 
wings  flap  constantly,  etc?  What  is  the  chief  difference  between  the 
flight  of  pigeons,  crows  or  hawks? 

48  Handbook  of  Nattire-Study 

6.  Listen  to  the  cooing  of  a  pigeon  and  see  if  you  can  understand 
the    different    notes. 

7.  Describe  the  pigeon's  nest.     How  many  eggs  are  laid  at  a  time? 

8.  Describe  how  the  parents  share  the  labors  in  hatching  the  eggs, 
and  how  long  after  the  eggs  are  laid  before  the  young  hatch  ? 

9.  How  do  the  parents  feed  their  young  and  on  what  material? 

10.  What  are  the  enemies  of  pigeons  and  how  do  they  escape  from 
them?     How  can  we  protect  them? 

11.  Describe  how  a  pigeon  house  should  be  built. 

12.  What  must  you  do  for  pigeons  to  keep  them  healthy  and  com- 
fortable ? 

13.  How  many  breeds  of  pigeons  do  you  know?     Describe  them. 
Supplementary    reading — "Amaux"    in    Animal    Heroes,    Thompson 

Seton;  Audubon  Leaflet,  Nos.  2  and  6;  Neighbors  with  Wings  and  Fins 
Ch.  XV;  Noah  and  the  Dove,  The  Bible;  Daddy  Darwin's  Dove  Cote, 
Mrs.  Ewing;   Squab  Raising,  Bui.  of  U.  S.  Dept.  Agr. 

For  my  mvn  part  I  readily  concur  with  you  in  supposing  that  housedoves  are 
derived  from  the  small  blue  rock-pigeon,  Colurnba  livia,  for  many  reasons.  *  *  * 
But  what  is  worth  a  hundred  arguments  is,  the  instance  you  give  in  Sir  Roger  Mostyn's 
housedoves  in  Caernarvonshire ;  ivhich,  though  tempted  by  plenty  of  food  and  gentle 
treatment,  can  never  be  prevailed  on  to  inhabit  their  cote  for  any  time;  but  as  soon  as  they 
begin  to  breed,  betake  themselves  to  the  fastnesses  of  Ormshead,  and  deposit  their  young 
in  safety  amidst  the  inaccessible  caverns  and  precipices  of  that  stupendous  promontory. 
"You  may  drive  nature  out  ivith  a  pitchfork,  but  she  will  always  return:" 

"Naturam  expellas  furca     *     *     *     tamen  usque  recurret." 
Virgil,  as  a  familiar  occurrence,    by  way  of  simile,  describes  a  dove  haunting  the 
cavern  of  a  rock  in  such  engaging  numbers,  that  I  cannot  refrain  from  quoting  the 

"Qualis  spelunca  subito  commota  Columba, 
Cui  domus,  et  dulces  latebroso  in  pumice  nidi, 
Fcrtul  in  arva  volans,  plausunique  exterrita  pennis 
Dat  tecto  ingentem,  ntox  acre  lapsa  quieto, 
Radit  iter  liquidum,  celeres  neque  commovet  alas." 

(Virg.  Aen.  v.  213-217). 

".45  when  a  dove  her  rocky  hold  forsakes, 
Roused,  in  a  fright  her  sounding  ivings  she  shakes; 
The  cavern  rings  with  clattering: — out  she  flies. 
And  leaves  her  callow  care,  and  cleaves  the  skies; 
At  first  she  flutters: — but  at  length  she  springs 
To  smoother  flight,  and  shoots  upon  her  wings." 

CDryden's  Translation). 

White  of  Selbourne. 

Bird  Study  49 


Teacher's  Story 

N  childhood  the  language  of  birds  and  animals  is  learned 
unconsciously.  What  child,  who  cares  for  a  canary,  does 
not  understand  its  notes  which  mean  loneliness,  hunger, 
eagerness,  joy,  scolding,  fright,  love  and  song! 

The  pair  of  canaries  found  in  most  cages  are  not  natural 
mates.  The  union  is  one  de  convenance,  forced  upon  them 
P^  by  people  who  know  little  of  bird  aflfinities.  We  could 
hardly  expect  that  such  a  mating  would  be  always  happy. 
The  singer,  as  the  male  is  called,  is  usually  arbitrary  and  tyrannical  and 
does  not  hesitate  to  lay  chastising  beak  upon  his  spouse.  The  expression 
of  affection  of  the  two  is  usually  very  practical,  consisting  of  feeding  each 
other  with  many  beguiling  notes  and  much  fluttering  of  wings.  The 
singer  may  have  several  songs ;  whether  he  has  many  or  few  depends  upon 
his  education;  he  usually  shows  exultation  when  singing  by  throwing  the 
head  back  like  a  prima-donna,  to  let  the  music  well  forth.  He  is  usually 
brighter  yellow  in  color  with  more  brilliantly  black  markings  than  his 
mate ;  she  usually  has  much  gray  in  her  plumage.  But  there  are  about 
fifty  varieties  of  canaries  and  each  has  distinct  color  and  markings. 

Canaries  should  be  given  a  more  varied  diet  than  most  people  think. 
The  seeds  we  buy  or  that  we  gather  from  the  plantain  or  wild  grasses,  they 
eat  eagerly.  They  like  fresh,  green  leaves  of  lettuce  and  chickweed  and 
other  tender  herbage;  they  enjoy  bread  and  milk  occasionally.  There 
should  always  be  a  piece  of  cuttle-fish  bono  or  san'''  and  gravel  where  they 
can  get  it,  as  they  need  grit  for  digestion.  Abce  all,  they  should  have 
fresh  water.  Hard-boiled  egg  is  given  them  while  nesting.  The  canary 
seed  which  we  buy  for  them  is  the  product  of  a  grass  in  the  Canary  Islands. 
Hemp  and  rape  seed  are  also  sold  for  canary  food. 

The  canary's  beak  is  wide  and  sharp  and  fitted  for  shelling  seeds;  it  is 
not  a  beak  fitted  for  capturing  insects.  The  canary,  when  drinking,  does 
not  have  to  lift  the  beak  so  high  in  the  air  in  order  to  swallow  the  water  as 
do  some  birds.  The  nostrils  are  in  the  beak  and  are  easily  seen;  the  ear 
is  hidden  by  the  feathers.  The  canary  is  a  fascinating  little  creature 
when  it  shows  interest  in  an  object;  it  has  such  a  knowing  look,  and  its 
perfectly  round,  black  eyes  arc  so  intelligent  and  cunning.  If  the  canary 
winks,  the  act  is  so  rapid  as  to  be  seen  with  difficulty,  but  when  drowsy, 
the  Httle  inner  lid  appears  at  the  inner  corner  of  its  eye  and  the  outer  lids 
close  so  that  we  may  be  sure  that  they  are  there;  the  lower  lid  covers 
more  of  the  eye  than  the  upper. 

The  legs  and  toes  are  covered  with  scale  armor;  the  toes  have  long, 
curved  claws  that  are  neither  strong  nor  sharp  but  are  especially  fitted  for 
holding  to  the  perch ;  the  long  hind  toe  with  its  stronger  claw  makes  com- 
plete the  grasp  on  the  twig.  When  the  canary  is  hopping  about  on  the 
bottom  of  the  cage  we  can  see  that  its  toes  are  more  fitted  for  holding  to 
the  perch  than  for  walking. 

When  the  canary  bathes,  it  ducks  its  head  and  makes  a  great  splashing 
with  its  wings  and  likes  to  get  thoroughly  wet.  Afterward,  it  sits  all 
bedraggled  and  "humped  up"  for  a  time  and  then  usually  preens  its 
feathers  as  they  dry.  When  going  to  sleep,  it  at  first  fluffs  out  its  feathers 
and  squats  on  the  perch,  draws  back  its  head  and  looks  very  drowsy. 


Hajtdbook  of  N atiire-Study 

Later  it  tucks  its  head  under  its  wing  for  the  night,  and  then  looks  like  a 
little  ball  of  feathers  on  the  perch. 

Canaries  make  a  great  fuss  when  building  their  nest.  A  pasteboard 
box  is  usually  given  them  with  cotton  and  string  for  lining;  usually  one 
pulls  out  what  the  other  puts  in;  and  they  both  industriously  tear  the 
paper  from  the  bottom  of  the  cage  to  add  to  their  building  material. 
Finally,  a  make-shift  of  a  nest  is  completed  and  the  eggs  are  laid.  If  the 
singer  is  a  good  husband,  he  helps  incubate  the  eggs  and  feeds  his  mate 
and  sings  to  her  frequently ;  but  often  he  is  quite  the  reverse  and  abuses 
her  abominably.  The  nest  of  the  caged  bird  is  very  different  in  appear- 
ance from  the  neat  nests  of  grass,  plant  down,  and  moss  which  the  w^ild 
ancestors  of  these  birds  made  in  some  safe  retreat  in  the  shrubs  or  ever- 
greens of  the  Canary  Islands.  The  canary  eggs  are  pale  blue,  marked 
with  reddish-brown.  The  incubation  period  is  13  to  14  days.  The 
young  are  as  scrawny  and  ugly  as  most  little  birds  and  are  fed  upon  food 
partially  digested  in  the  parents'  stomachs.  Their  first  plumage  resem- 
bles that  of  the  mother  usually. 

In  their  wild  state  in  the  Canary  and  Azore  Islands,  the  canaries  are 
olive  green  above  with  golden  yellow  breasts.  When  the  heat  of  spring 
begins,  they  move  up  the  mountains  to  cooler  levels  and  come  down  again 
in  the  winter.  They  may  rear  three  or  four  broods  on  their  way  up  the 
mountains,  stopping  at  successive  heights  as  the  season  advances,  until 
finally  they  reach  the  high  peaks. 


.4  pair  of  goldfinches. 

fCourtesy  of  Audubon  Educational 
Leaflet  No.   17). 

black  cap  but  keeps  his  black  wings  and  tail. 

The  goldfinches  are  bird  midgets 
but  their  songs  are  so  sweet  and 
reedy  that  they  seem  to  fill  the 
world  with  music  more  eft'ectually 
than  many  larger  birds.  They 
are  fond  of  the  seeds  of  wild 
grass,  and  especially  so  of  thistle 
seed ;  and  they  throng  the  pastures 
and  fence  corners  where  the  thistles 
hold  sway.  In  summer,  the  male 
has  bright  yellow  plumage  with 
a  little  black  cap  "pulled  down 
over  his  nose"  like  that  of  a 
grenadier.  He  has  also  a  black 
tail  and  wings  with  white-tipped 
coverts  and  primaries.  The  tail 
feathers  have  white  on  their  inner 
webs  also,  which  does  not  show 
when  the  tail  is  closed.  The  female 
has  the  head  and  back  brown  and 
the  under  parts  yellowish  white, 
with  wings  and  tail  resembling 
those  of  the  male  except  that  they 
are  not  so  vividly  black.  In 
winter  the  male  dons  a  dress  more 
like  that  of  his  mate;   he  loses  his 

Bird  Study  51 

The  song  of  the  goldfinch  is  exquisite  and  he  sings  during  the  entire 
period  of  his  golden  dress;  he  sings  while  flying  as  well  as  when  at  rest. 
The  flight  is  in  itself  beautiful,  being  wave-like  up  and  down,  in  graceful 
curves.  Mr.  Chapman  says  when  on  the  down  half  of  the  curve  the  male 
sings  "Per-chick  or-ree."  The  goldfinch's  call  notes  and  alarm  notes  are 
very  much  like  those  of  the  canary. 

Since  the  goldfinches  live  so  largely  upon  seeds  of  grasses,  they  stay 
with  us  in  small  numbers  during  the  winter.  During  this  period  both 
parents  and  young  are  dressed  in  olive  green,  and  their  sweet  call  notes 
are  a  surprise  to  us  of  a  cold,  snowy  morning,  for  they  are  associated  in  our 
memory  with  summer.     The  male  dons  his  winter  suit  in  October. 

The  goldfinch  nest  is  a  mass  of  fluffiness.  These  are  the  only  birds 
that  make  feather  beds  for  their  young.  But,  perhaps,  we  should  say 
beds  of  down,  since  it  is  the  thistle  down  which  is  used  for  this  mattress. 
The  outside  of  the  nest  consists  of  fine  shreds  of  bark  or  fine  grass  closely 
woven ;  but  the  inner  portion  is  a  mat  of  thistle  down — an  inch  and  a  half 
thick  of  cushion  for  a  nest  which  has  an  opening  of  scarcely  three  inches; 
sometimes  the  outside  is  ornamented  with  lichens.  The  nest  is  usually 
placed  in  some  bush  or  tree,  often  in  an  evergreen,  and  not  more  than  5  or 
6  feet  from  the  ground;  but  sometimes  it  is  placed  30  feet  high.  The 
eggs  are  from  four  to  six  in  number  and  bluish  white  in  color.  The  female 
builds  the  nest,  her  mate  cheering  her  with  song  meanwhile;  he  feeds  her 
while  she  is  incubating  and  helps  feed  the  young.  A  strange  thing  about 
the  nesting  habits  of  the  goldfinches  is  that  the  nest  is  not  built  until 
August.  It  has  been  surmised  that  this  nesting  season  is  delayed  until 
there  is  an  abundance  of  thistle  down  for  building  material.  Audubon 
Leaflet  No.  17  gives  special  information  about  these  birds  and  also 
furnishes  an  outline  of  the  birds  for  the  pupils  to  color. 


The  Canary  and  the  Goldfin'ch 

Leading  thought — The  canary  is  a  very  close  relative  of  the  common 
wild  goldfinch.  If  we  compare  the  habits  of  the  two  we  can  understand 
how  a  canary  might  live  if  it  were  free. 

Method — Bring  a  canary  to  the  schoolroom  and  ask  for  observations. 
Request  the  pupils  to  compare  the  canary  with  the  goldfinches  which  are 
common  in  the  summer.  The  canary  offers  opportunity  for  very  close 
observation  which  will  prove  excellent  training  for  the  pupils  for  beginning 
bird  study. 

Observations — i.  If  there  are  two  canaries  in  the  cage  are  they 
always  pleasant  to  each  other?  Which  one  is  the  "boss?"  How  do  they 
show  displeasure  or  bad  temper?  How  do  they  show  affection  for  each 

2.  Which  one  is  the  singer?  Does  the  other  one  ever  attempt  to 
sing?  What  other  notes  do  the  canaries  make  besides  singing?  How  do 
they  greet  you  when  you  bring  their  food?  What  do  they  say  when  they 
are  lonesome  and  hungry? 

3.  Does  the  singer  have  more  than  one  song?  How  does  he  act 
while  singing?  Why  does  he  throw  back  his  head  like  an  opera  singer 
when  singing? 

52  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

4.  Are  the  canaries  all  the  same  color?  Wha-t  is  the  difference  in 
color  between  the  singer  and  the  mother  bird?  Describe  the  colors  of 
each  in  your  note  book  as  follows:  Top  and  sides  of  head,  back,  tail, 
wings,  throat,  breast  and  under  parts? 

5.  What  does  the  canary  eat?  What  sort  of  seeds  do  we  buy  for  it? 
What  seeds  do  we  gather  for  it  in  our  garden  ?  Do  the  goldfinches  live  on 
the  same  seeds?  What  does  the  canary  do  to  the  seeds  before  eating 
them  ?     What  tools  does  he  use  to  take  off  the  shells  ? 

6.  Notice  the  shape  of  the  canary's  beak.  Is  it  long  and  strong  like 
a  robin's?  Is  it  wide  and  sharp  so  that  it  can  shell  seeds?  If  you  should 
put  an  insect  in  the  cage  would  the  canary  eat  it? 

7.  Why  do  we  give  the  canary  cuttlebone?  Note  how  it  takes  off 
pieces  of  the  bone.     Could  it  do  this  if  its  beak  were  not  sharp? 

8.  Note  the  actions  of  the  birds  when  they  drink.     Why  do  they  do 


9.  Can  you  see  the  nostrils?     Where  are  they  situated?     Why  can 

you  not  see  the  ear? 

10.  When  the  canary  is  interested  in  looking  at  a  thing  how  does  it 
act?  Look  closely  at  its  eyes?  Does  it  wink?  How  does  it  close  its 
eyes?  When  it  is  drowsy  can  you  see  the  little  inner  lid  come  from  the 
comer  of  the  eye  nearest  the  beak?     Is  this  the  only  lid? 

11.  How  are  the  legs  and  feet  covered?  Describe  the  toes.  Com- 
pare the  length  of  the  claw  with  the  length  of  the  toe.  What  is  the  shape 
of  the  claw?  Do  you  think  that  such  shaped  claws  and  feet  are  better 
fitted  for  holding  to  a  branch  than  for  walking?  Note  the  arrangement 
of  the  toes  when  the  bird  is  on  its  perch.  Is  the  hind  toe  longer  and 
stronger?     If  so,  why?     Do  the  canaries  hop  or  walk  about  the  bottom 

of  the  cage  ? 

12.  What  is  the  attitude  of  the  canary  when  it  goes  to  sleep  at  night? 
How  does  it  act  when  it  takes  a  bath  ?  How  does  it  get  the  water  over  its 
head  ?  Over  its  back  ?  What  does  it  do  after  the  bath  ?  If  we  forget  to 
put  in  the  bath  dish  how  does  the  bird  get  its  bath? 


13.  AVhen  the  canaries  are  ready  to  build  a  nest  what  material  do 
we  furnish  them  for  it?  Does  the  father  bird  help  the  mother  to  build 
the  nest?  Do  they  strip  off  the  paper  on  the  bottom  of  the  cage  for  nest 
material?     Describe  the  nest  when  it  is  finished. 

14.  Describe  the  eggs  carefully.  Does  the  father  bird  assist  m 
sitting  on  the  eggs?     Does  he  feed  the  mother  bird  when  she  is  sitting? 

1 5*  How  long  after  the  eggs  are  laid  before  the  young  ones  hatch? 
Do  both  parents  feed  the  young?  Do  they  swallow  the  food  first  and 
partially  digest  it  before  giving  it  to  the  young? 

16.  How  do  the  very  young  birds  look?  What  is  their  appearance 
when  they  leave  the  nest?  Does  the  color  of  their  plumage  resemble 
that  of  the  father  or  the  mother? 

17.  Where  did  the  canaries  originally  come  from?     Find  the  place 

on  the  map. 

Supplementary  reading— "A Caged  Bird,"  Sarah  Ome  Jewett  m  bongs 

of  Nature,  p.  75;  True  Bird  Stories,  Miller. 

Bird  Study  c^ 

The  Goldfinch 

Leading  thought — Goldfinches  are  seen  at  their  best  in  late  summer  or 
September  when  they  appear  in  flocks  wherever  the  thistle  seeds  are 
found  in  abundance.  Goldfinches  so  resemble  the  canaries  in  form,  color, 
song  and  habits  that  they  are  called  wild  canaries. 

Method — The  questions  for  this  lesson  should  be  given  to  the  pupils 
before  the  end  of  school  in  June.  The  answers  to  the  questions  should  be 
put  in  their  field  note-books  and  the  results  be  reported  to  the  teacher  in 
class  when  the  school  begins  in  the  autumn. 

Observations—!.  Where  do  you  find  the  goldfinches  feeding?  How 
can  you  distinguish  the  father  from  the  mother  birds  and  from  the  young 
ones  in  color? 

2.  Describe  the  colors  of  the  male  goldfinch  and  also  of  the  female  as 
follows :  Crown,  back  of  head,  back,  tail,  wings,  throat,  breast  and  lower 
parts.     Describe  in  particular  the  black  cap  of  the  male. 

3.  Do  you  know  the  song  of  the  goldfinch?  Is  it  like  the  song  of  the 
canary?     What  other  notes  has  the  goldfinch? 

4.  Describe  the  peculiar  flight  of  the  goldfinches.  Do  they  fly  high 
in  the  air?     Do  you  see  them  singly  or  in  flocks  usually? 

5.  Where  do  the  goldfinches  stay  during  the  winter?  What  change 
takes  place  in  the  coat  of  the  male  during  the  winter?  Why?  What  do 
they  live  upon  during  the  winter? 

6.  At  what  time  of  year  do  the  goldfinches  build  their  nests?  Why 
do  they  build  these  so  much  later  than  other  birds?  Describe  the  nest. 
Where  is  it  placed  ?  How  far  above  the  ground  ?  How  far  from  a  stream 
or  other  water?  Of  what  is  the  outside  made?  The  lining?  What  is 
the  general  appearance  of  the  nest?  Do  you  think  the  goldfinches  wait 
until  the  thistles  are  ripe  in  order  to  gather  plenty  of  food  for  their  young, 
or  to  get  the  thistle  down  for  their  nests?     What  is  the  color  of  the  eggs? 

Supplementary  reading — Trtie  Bird  Stories,  Miller,  pp.  6,  g,  26,  45. 
The  Second  Book  of  Birds,  Miller,  p.  82;  Our  Birds  and  Their  Nestlings, 
Walker,  pp.  180,  200. 

Sometimes  goldfinches  one  by  one  will  drop 
From  low-hung  branches;  little  space  they  stop. 
But  sip,  and  twitter,  and  their  feathers  sleek. 
Then  off  at  once,  as  in  a  wanton  freak; 
Or  perhaps,  to  show  their  black  and  golden  wings; 
Pausing  upon  their  yellow  flutterings. 

— John  Keats. 

54  Haiidhook  of  Nature-Study 


Teacher's  Story 

jOST  of  us  think  we  know  the  robin  well,  but  very  few 
of  us  know  definitely  the  habits  of  this,  our  commonest 
bird.  The  object  of  this  lesson  is  to  form  in  the  pupils 
a  habit  of  careful  observation,  and  enable  them  to  read 
for  themselves  the  interesting  story  of  this  little  life 
which  is  lived  every  year  before  their  eyes.  Moreover, 
a  robin  note-book,  if  well  kept,  is  a  treasure  for  any  child;  and  the  close 
observation  necessary  for  this  lesson  trains  the  pupils  to  note  in  a  com- 
prehending way  the  habits  of  other  birds.  It  is  the  very  best  preparation 
for  bird  study  of  the  right  sort. 

A  few  robins  occasionally  find  a  swamp  where  they  can  obtain  food  to 
nourish  them  during  the  northern  winter,  but  for  the  most  part,  they  go 
in  flocks  to  our  Southern  States  where  they  settle  in  swamps  and  cedar 
forests  and  live  upon  berries.  They  are  killed  in  great  numbers  by  the 
native  hunters  who  eat  them  or  sell  them  for  table  use,  a  performance  not 
understandable  to  the  northerner.  The  robins  do  not  nest  nor  sing  while 
in  Southland,  and  no  wonder!  When  the  robins  first  come  to  us  in  the 
spring  they  feed  on  wild  berries,  being  especially  fond  of  those  of  the 
Virginia  creeper.  As  soon  as  the  frost  is  out  of  the  ground  they  begin 
feeding  on  earthworms,  cutworms,  white  grubs,  and  other  insects.  The 
male  robins  come  first,  but  do  not  sing  until  their  mates  arrive. 

The  robin  is  ten  inches  long  and  the  English  sparrow  is  only  six  and 
one-third  inches  long;  the  pupils  should  get  the  sizes  of  these  two  birds 
fixed  in  their  minds  for  comparison  in  measuring  other  birds.  The  father 
robin  is  much  more  decided  in  color  than  his  mate;  his  beak  is  yellow, 
there  is  a  yellow  ring  about  the  eye  and  a  white  spot  above  it.  The  head 
is  black  and  the  back  slaty-brown ;  the  breast  is  brilliant  reddish  brown 
or  bay  and  the  throat  is  white,  streaked  with  black.  The  mother  bird  has 
paler  back  and  breast  and  has  no  black  upon  the  head.  The  wings  of  both 
are  a  little  darker  than  the  back,  the  tail  is  black  with  the  two  outer 
feathers  tipped  with  white.  These  white  spots  do  not  show  except  when 
the  bird  is  flying  and  are  "call  colors,"  that  is,  they  enable  the  birds  to 
see  each  other  and  thus  keep  together  when  flying  in  flocks  during  the 
night.  The  white  patch  made  by  the  under  tail-coverts  serves  a  similar 
purpose.     The  feet  and  legs  are  strong  and  dark  in  color. 

The  robin  has  many  sweet  songs  and  he  may  be  heard  in  the  earliest 
dawn  and  also  in  the  evenings;  if  he  wishes  to  cheer  his  mate  he  may 
burst  into  song  at  any  time.  He  feels  especially  songful  before  the 
summer  showers  when  he  seems  to  sing,  "I  have  a  theory,  a  theory,  its 
going  to  rain."  And  he  might  well  say  that  he  also  has  a  theory,  based 
on  experience,  that  a  soaking  shower  will  drive  many  of  the  worms  and 
larvae  in  the  soil  up  to  the  surface  where  he  can  get  them.  Besides  these 
songs  the  robins  have  a  great  variety  of  notes  which  the  female  shares, 
although  she  is  not  a  singer.  The  agonizing,  angry  cries  they  utter  when 
they  see  a  cat  or  squirrel  must  express  their  feelings  fully ;  while  they  give 
a  very  different  warning  note  when  they  see  crow  or  hawk,  a  note  hard  to 
describe,  but  which  is  a  long,  not  very  loud  squeak. 

A  robin  can  run  or  hop  as  pleases  him  best,  and  it  is  interesting  to  see 
one,  while  hunting  earthworms  run  a  little  distance,  then  stop  to  bend  the 

Bird  Study 


head  and  listen  for  his  prey,  and  when  he  finally  seizes  the  earthworm  he 
braces  himself  on  his  strong  legs  and  tugs  manfully  until  he  sometimes 
almost  falls  over  backward  as  the  worm  lets  go  its  hold.  The  robins, 
especially  at  nesting  time,  eat  many  insects  as  well  as  earthworms. 

The  beginning  of  a  robin's  nest  is  very  interesting;  much  strong  grass, 
fine  straw,  leaves  and  rootlets  are  brought  and  placed  on  a  secure  support. 
When  enough  of  this  material  is  collected  and  arranged,  the  bird  goes  to 
the  nearest  mud  puddle  or  stream  margin  and  fills  its  beak  with  soft 
mud  and  going  back  "peppers"  it  into  the  nest  material,  and  after  the 
latter  is  soaked  the  bird  gets  into  it  and  molds  it  to  the  body  by  nestling 
and  turning  around  and  around.  In  one  case  which  the  author  watched 
the  mother  bird  did  this  part  of  the  building,  although  the  father  worked 
industriously  in  bringing  the  other  materials.  After  the  nest  is  molded 
but  not  yet  hardened,  it  is  lined  with  fine  grass  or  rootlets.  If  the  season 
is  very  dry  and  there  is  no  soft  mud  at  hand,  the  robins  can  buiM  without 
the  aid  of  this  plaster.  There  are  usually  four  eggs  laid  which  are  ex- 
quisite greenish  blue  in  color. 

Both  parents  share  the  monotonous  business  of  incubating,  and  in  the 
instance  under  the  eyes  of  the  author  the  mother  bird  was  on  the  nest  at 
night;  the  period  of  incubating  is  from  eleven  to  fourteen  days.  The 
most  noticeable  thing  about  a  very  young  robin  is  its  wide,  yellow- 
margined  mouth,  which  it  opens  like  a  satchel  every  time  the  nest  is 
jarred.     This  wide  mouth  cannot  but  suggest  to  anyone  that  it  is  meant 

Robin  oil   nest. 

56  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

to  be  stuffed,  and  the  two  parents  work  very  hard  to  fill  it.  Both  parents 
feed  the  young  and  often  the  father  feeds  the  mother  bird  while  she  is 
brooding.  Professor  Treadwell  experimented  with  young  robins  and 
found  that  each  would  take  68  earthworms  daily;  these  worms  if  laid 
end  to  end  would  measure  about  14  feet.  Think  of  14  feet  of  earthworm 
being  wound  into  the  little  being  in  the  nest,  no  wonder  that  it  grows  so 
fast!  I  am  convinced  that  each  pair  of  robins  about  our  house  has  its 
own  special  territory  for  hunting  worms,  and  that  any  trespasser  is 
quickly  driven  off.  The  young  bird's  eyes  are  unsealed  when  they  are 
from  six  to  eight  days  old,  and  by  that  time  the  feather  tracts,  that  is, 
the  place  where  the  feathers  are  to  grow,  are  covered  by  the  spine-like 
pin-feathers;  these  feathers  push  the  down  out  and  it  often  clings  to  their 
tips.  In  eleven  days  the  birds  are  pretty  weU  feathered;  their  wing 
feathers  are  fairly  developed  but  alas,  they  have  no  tail  feathers!  When 
a  young  robin  flies  from  the  nest  he  is  a  very  uncertain  and  tippy  young- 
ster not  having  any  tail  to  steer  him  while  flying,  nor  to  balance  him  when 

It  is  an  anxious  time  for  the  old  robins  when  the  young  ones  leave  the 
nest,  and  they  flutter  about  and  scold  at  any  one  who  comes  in  sight,  so 
afraid  are  they  that  injury  will  come  to  their  inexperienced  young  ones; 
for  some  time  the  parents  care  for  the  fledglings,  solicitously  feeding  them 
and  giving  them  warnings  of  danger.  The  young  robin  shows  in  its 
plumage  i,ts  relation  to  the  thrush  family,  for  it  is  yellowish  and  very 
spotted  and  speckled,  especially  the  breast.  The  parents  may  raise 
several  broods,  but  they  never  use  the  same  nest  for  two  consecutive 
broods,  both  because  it  may  be  infested  with  parasites  and  because  it  is 
more  or  less  soiled ;  although  the  mother  robin  works  hard  to  keep  it 
clean,  carrying  away  all  waste  matter  in  her  beak  and  dropping  it. 
Robins  do  not  sing  much  after  the  breeding  season  is  over  until  after  they 
have  molted.  They  are  fond  of  cherries  and  other  pulp  fruits  and  often 
do  much  damage  to  such  crops.  The  wise  orchardist  will  plant  a  few 
Russian  mulberry  trees  at  a  reasonable  distance  from  his  cherry  trees, 
and  thus,  by  giving  the  robins  a  fruit  which  they  Hke  better,  and  which 
ripens  a  little  earher,  he  may  save  his  cherries.  It  has  been  proven  con- 
clusively that  the  robins  are  far  more  beneficial  than  damaging  to  the 
farmer;'  they  destroy  many  noxious  insects,  two-thirds  of  their  food  the 
entire  year  consisting  of  insects;  during  April  and  May  they  do  a  great 
work  in   destroying  cutworms. 

The  robins  stay  with  us  later  than  most  migrating  birds,  not  leaving 
us  entirely  before  November.  Their  chief  enemies  in  northern  cHmates 
are  cats,  crows  and  squirrels.  Cats  should  be  taught  to  let  birds  alone 
(see  lesson  on  cat)  or  should  be  killed.  The  crows  have  driven  the  robins 
into  villages  where  they  can  build  their  nests  under  the  protection  of 
man.  If  crows  venture  near  a  house  to  attack  the  robins,  firing  a  gun  at 
them  once  or  twice  will  give  them  a  hint  which  they  are  not  slow  to  take. 
The  robins  of  an  entire  neighborhood  will  attack  a  nest-robbing  crow,  but 
usually  too  late  to  save  the  nestlings.  The  robins  can  defend  themselves 
fairly  well  against  the  red  squirrel  unless  he  steals  the  contents  of  the  nest 
while  the  owners  are  away.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  same  pair  of 
robins  return  to  the  same  nesting  place  year  after  year.  On  the  Cornell 
Campus  a  robin  lacking  the  white  tip  on  one  side  of  his  tail  was  noted 
to  have  returned  fo  the  same  particular  feeding  ground  for  several  years; 

Bird  Study 


and  we  are  very  certain  that  the  same  female  bird  built  in  the  vines  of  our 
piazza  for  seven  consecutive  years;  it  took  two  years  to  win  her  confi- 
dence; but  after  that,  she  seemed  to  feel  as  if  she  were  a  part  of  the  family 
and  regarded  us  all  as  friends.  We  were  sure  that  during  her  fifth  year 
she  brought  a  new  young  husband  to  the  old  nesting  site;  probably  her 
faithful  old  husband  had  been  served  for  a  dinner  in  some  Tennessee  hotel 
during  the  previous  winter. 

Young  robins. 

Their  spotted  breasts  show  their  relationship  to  the  thrushes. 
(Photo  by  Silas  Lottridge). 

The   Robin 

Leading  thought — To  understand  all  we  can  about  the  life  and  ways  of 
the  robin. 

Methods — For  first  and  second  grades  this  work  may  be  done  by 
means  of  an  extra  blackboard,  or  what  is  far  better,  sheets  of  ordinary, 
buff,  manilla  wrapping  paper  fastened  together  at  the  upper  end,  so  that 
they  may  be  hung  and  turned  over  like  a  calendar.  On  the  outside  page 
make  a  picture  of  a  robin  in  colored  chalk  or  crayons,  coloring  according 
to  the  children's  answers  to  questions  of  series  "6".  Devote  each  page 
to  one  series  of  questions,  as  given  below.  Do  not  show  these  questions 
to  the  pupils  until  the  time  is  ripe  for  the  observations.  Those  pupils 
giving  accurate  answers  to  these  questions  should  have  their  names  on  a 
roll  of  honor  on  the  last  page  of  the  chart. 

58  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

For  third  or  higher  grades  the  pupils  should  have  individual  note- 
books in  which  each  one  may  write  his  own  answers  to  the  questions  of  the 
successive  series,  which  should  be  written  on  the  blackboard  at  proper 
time  for  the  observations.  This  note-book  should  have  a  page  about  6x8 
inches  and  may  be  made  of  any  blank  paper.  The  cover  or  first  page 
should  show  the  picture  of  the  robin  colored  by  the  pupil,  and  may  con- 
tain other  illustrative  drawings,  and  any  poems  or  other  literature 
pertinent  to  the  subject.  If  prizes  are  awarded  in  the  school,  a  bird  book 
should  be  given  as  award  for  the  best  note-book  in  the  class. 

Observations  by  pupils — Series  a  (To  be  given  in  March),  i.  At 
what  date  did  you  see  the  first  robin  this  year? 

2.  Where  did  the  robin  spend  the  winter;  did  it  build  a  nest  or  sing 
when  in  its  winter  quarters? 

3.  What  does  it  find  to  eat  when  it  first  comes  in  the  spring?  How 
doe's  this  differ  from  its  ordinary  food? 

4.  Does  the  robin  begin  to  sing  as  soon  as  it  comes  North.'' 

Series  b  (To  be  given  the  first  week  of  April) .  i .  How  large  is  tHe 
robin  compared  with  the  English  sparrow? 

2.  What  is  the  color  of  the  beak?  The  eye?  Around  and  above 
the  eye? 

3.  The    color  of  the  top    of   the    head?     The  back?     The  throat? 

The  breast? 

4.  Do  all  the  robins   have  equally  bright  colors  on  head,  back  and 

breast  ? 

5.  What  is  the  color  of  the  wing  feathers? 

6.  What  is  the  color  of  the  tail  feathers?  Where  is  the  white  on 
them?  Can  the  white  spots  be  seen  except  during  flight  of  the  bird? 
Of  what  use  to  the  robin  are  these  spots? 

7.  Is  there  white  on  the  underside  of  the  robin  as  it  flies  over  you? 
Where  ? 

8.  What  is  the  color  of  the  feet  and  legs? 

Series  c  (To  be  given  the  second  week  of  April). 

1.  At  what  time  of  day  does  the  robin  sing?  Is  it  likely  to  sing 
before  a  rain?     How  many  different  songs  does  a  robin  sing? 

2.  What  note  does  a  robin  give  when  it  sees  a  cat? 

3.  What  sounds  do  the  robins  make  when  they  see  a  crow  or  a 
hawk  ? 

4.  Does  a  robin  run  or  walk  or  hop? 

5.  Do  you  think  it  finds  the  hidden  earthworm  by  listening?     If  so 

describe  the  act. 

6.  Describe  how  a  robin  acts  as  it  pulls  a  big  earthworm  out  of  the 

7.  Do  robins  eat  other  food  than  earthworms? 

Series  d  (To  be  given  by  the  middle  of  April),  i.  At  what  date 
did  your  pair  of  robins  begin  to  build  their  nest? 

2.  Where  was  the  nest  placed  and  with  what  material  was  it  begun  ? 

3.  Can  you  tell  the  difference  in  colors  between  the  father  and 
mother  birds?     Do  both  parents  help  in  making  the  nest? 

4.  How  and  with  what  material  is  the  plastering  done?  How  is 
the  nest  molded  into  shape?     Do  both  birds  do  this  part  of  the  work? 

Bird  Study  59 

5.  Where  is  the  mud  obtained  and  how  carried  to  the  nest? 

6.  How  is  the  nest  hned? 

5mc5  e  (To  be  given  a  week  after  series  d).  i.  What  is  the  number 
and  color  of  the  eggs  in  the  nest? 

2.  Do  both  parents  do  the  sitting?  Which  sits  on  the  nest  during 
the  night? 

3.  Give  the  date  when  the  first  nesthng  hatches. 

4.  How  does  the  young  robin  look?  The  color  and  size  of  its  beak? 
Why  is  its  beak  so  large?  Can  it  see?  Is  it  covered  with  down?  Com- 
pare it  to  a  young  chick  and  describe  the  difference  between  the  two. 

5.  What  does  the  young  robin  do  if  it  feels  any  jar  against  the  nest? 
Why  does  it  do  this? 

6.  Do  the  young  robins  make  any  noise? 

7.  AVhat  do  the  parents  feed  their  young?  Do  both  parents  feed 
them?     Are  the  young  fed  in  turns? 

8.  Does  each  pair  of  robins  have  a  certain  territory  for  hunting 
worms  which  is  not  trespassed  upon  by  other  robins? 

Series  f  (To  be  given  three  days  after  series  e).  i.  How  long  after 
hatching  before  the  young  robin's  eyes  are  open?  Can  3'ou  see  where  the 
feathers  are  going  to  grow?     How  do  the  young  feathers  look? 

2.  How  long  after  hatching  before  the  yotnig  birds  are  covered  with 

3.  Do  their  wing  or  tail  feathers  come  first? 

4.  How  is  the  nest  kept  clean? 

5.  Give  the  date  when  the  young  robins  leave  the  nest?  How  do 
the  old  robins  act  at  this  important  crisis? 

6.  Describe  the  young  robin's  flight?     Why  is  it  so  unstead}- ? 

7.  How  do  the  young  robins  differ  in  colors  of  breast  from  the 

8.  Do  the  parents  stay  with  the  young  for  a  time?  "\A'hat  care  do 
they  give  them? 

9.  If  the  parents  raise  a  second  brood  do  they  use  the  same  nest? 

Series  g  (To  be  given  for  summer  reading  and  observations),  i. 
Do  the  robins  sing  all  summer?     Why? 

2.  Do  the  robins  take  your  berries  and  cherries?  How  can  you 
prevent  them  from  doing  this? 

3.  How  does  the  robin  help  us? 

4.  How  long  does  it  stay  with  us  in  the  fall? 

5.  What  are  the  chief  enemies  of  the  robin  and  how  does  it  fight  or 
escape  them?     How  can  we  help  protect  it? 

6.  Do  you  think  the  same  robins  come  back  to  us  each  year? 
Supplementary  reading — Nestlings  of    Forest  and  Marsh,   Wheelock 

p.  62;  Our  Birds  and  their  Nestlings,  Walker,  pp.  26,  37,  41,  42; 
True  Bird  Stories,  Miller,  pp.  37,  138;  The  Bird  Book,  Eckstrom,  p. 
248;  Familiar  Wild  Animals,  Lottridge;  The  History  of  the  Robins, 
Trimmer;  Field  Book  of  Wild  Birds  and  their  Music,  Mathews,  p.  246; 
Birds  in  Their  Relation  to  Man,  Weed  and  Dearborn,  p.  90;  Songs  of 
Nature,  Burroughs,  p.  94;  Wake  Robin,  Burroughs;  Audubon 
Leaflet  No.  4. 

6o  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


Teacher's  Story 

TERN  as  were  our  Pilgrim  Fathers,  they  could  not  fail 
to  welcome  certain  birds  with  plumage  the  color  of  June 
skies,  whose  sweet  voices  brought  hope  and  cheer  to 
their  homesick  hearts  at  the  close  of  that  first,  long, 
hard  winter  of  1621.  The  red  breasts  of  these  birds 
brought  to  memory  the  robins  of  old  England  and  so 
they  were  called  "Blue  robins";  and  this  name  ex- 
presses well  the  relationship  implied,  because  the  blue- 
birds and  robins  of  America  are  both  members  of  the 
thrush  family,  a  family  noted  for  exquisite  song. 

The  bluebirds  are  usually  ahead  of  the  robins  in  the  northward  journey 
and  arrive  in  New  York  often  amid  the  blizzards  of  early  March,  their 
soft,  rich  "curly"  notes  bringing,  even  to  the  doubting  mind,  glad  con- 
victions of  coming  spring.  There  is  a  family  resemblance  between  voices 
of  bluebird  and  robin,  a  certain  rich  quality  of  tone,  but  the  robin's  song 
is  far  more  assertive  and  complex  than  is  the  soft, "purling"  song  of  the 
bluebird,  which  has  been  vocahzed  as  "tru-al-ly,  tru-al-ly."  These  love 
songs  cease  with  the  hard  work  of  feeding  the  nestlings  in  April,  but  may 
be  heard  again  as  a  prelude  to  the  second  brood  in  June.  The  red  breast 
of  the  bluebird  is  its  only  color  resemblance  to  the  robin,  although  the 
young  bluebirds  and  robins  are  both  spotted,  showing  the  thrush  colors. 
The  robin  is  so  much  larger  than  the  bluebird  that  commonly  the  relation- 
ship is  not  noticed.  This  is  easily  explained  because  there  is  nothing  to 
suggest  a  robin  in  the  exquisite  cerulean  blue  of  the  bluebird's  head,  back, 
tafllmd  wings.  This  color  is  most  brilliant  when  the  bird  is  on  the  wing, 
in  the  sunshine.  However,  there  is  a  certain  mirror-like  quality  in  these 
blue  feathers ;  and  among  leaf  shadows  or  even  among  bare  branches  they 
in  a  measure,  reflect  the  surroundings  and  render  the  bird  less  noticeable. 
The  female  is  paler,  being  grayish  blue  above  and  with  only  a  tinge  of  red- 
brown  on  the  breast;  both  birds  are  white  beneath. 

The  bluebirds  haunt  open  woods,  fields  of  second  growth  and  especially 
old  orchards.  They  flit  about  in  companies  of  three  or  four  until  they 
mate  for  nesting.  While  feeding,  the  bluebird  usually  sits  on  a  low 
branch  keeping  a  keen  eye  on  the  ground  below,  now  and  then  dropping 
suddenly  on  an  unsuspecting  insect  and  then  returning  to  its  perch;  it 
does  not  remain  on  the  ground  hunting  food  as  does  the  robin.  The  nest 
is  usually  built  in  a  hole  in  a  tree  or  post  and  is  made  of  soft  grass.  A 
hollow  apple  tree  is  a  favorite  nesting  site. 

In  building  birdhouses  we  should  bear  in  mind  that  a  cavity  about  ten 
inches  deep  and  six  inches  in  height  and  width  will  give  a  pair  of  bluebirds 
room  for  building  a  nest.  The  opening  should  not  be  more  than  two  or 
two  and  one-half  inches  in  diameter  and  there  should  be  no  threshold; 
this  latter  is  a  very  particular  point.  If  there  is  a  threshold  or  place  to 
alight  upon,  the  sparrows  are  likely  to  dispute  with  the  bluebirds  and 
drive  them  away,  but  the  sparrow  does  not  care  for  a  place  which  has  no 
threshold.  The  box  for  the  bluebird  may  be  made  out  of  old  boards  or 
may  be  a  section  of  an  old  tree  trunk;  it  should  be  fastened  from  six  to 
fifteen  feet  above  the  ground,  and  should  be  in  nowise  noticeable  in  color 
from  its  surroundings.     To  protect  the  nest  from  cats,  barbed  wire  should 

Bird  Study 


Bluebird  at  the  entrance  of  its  nest. 
From  Country  Life  m  America, 

be  wound  around  the  tree  or  post  below  the  box.     If  the  box  for  the  nest 
is  placed  upon  a  post  the  barbed  wire  will  also  protect  it  from  the  squirrels. 
The      eggs      are      bluish 
white;    the   young  birds, 
in  their  first  feathers,  are 
spotted  on  the  back  and 
have  whitish  breasts  mot- 
tled    with     brown.     The 
food    of   the   nestlings   is 
almost    entirely     insects. 
In  fact,  this  bird  during 
its   entire   life   is   a   great 
friend  to  man.     The  food 
of  the  adult  is  more  than 
three-fourths  insects  and 
the     remainder     is     wild 
berries    and     fruits,     the 
winter  food  being  largely 
mistletoe    berries.     It 
makes  a  specialty  of  in- 
jurious  beetles,    caterpil- 
lars    and     grasshoppers, 
and  never  touches  any  of 
our  cultivated  fruits.    We 
should  do  everything  in  our  power  to  encourage  and  protect  these  birds 
from  their  enemies,  which  are  chiefly  cats,  squirrels  and  English  sparrows. 
The  migration  takes  place  in  flocks  during  autumn,  but  it  is  done  in  a 
most  leisurely  manner  with  frequent  stops  where  food  is  plenty.     The 
bluebirds  we  see  in  September  are  probably  not  the  ones  we  have  had  with 
us  during  the  summer,  but  are  those  which  have  come  from  farther  north. 
They  winter  largely  in  the  Gulf  States;  the  writer  has  often  heard  them 
singing  in  midwinter  in  Southern  Mississippi.     The  bluebirds  seem  to  be 
the  only  ones  that  sing  while  at  their  winter  resorts.     They  live  the  year 
round  in  the  Bermudas,  contrasting  their  heavenly  blue  plumage  with 
the  vivid  red  of  the  cardinals.     The  bluebird  should  not  be  confused  with 
the  indigo  bunting;  the  latter  is  darker  blue  and  has  a  blue  breast. 

References— BuWetin,  Some  Common  Birds  in  Their  Relation  to 
Man,  U.  S.  Dept.  of  Agr.;  Bulletin,  The  Food  of  Nestling  Birds,  U.  S. 
Dept.  of  Agr.;  Birds  in  Their  Relation  to  Man,  Weed  &  Dearborn,  pp. 
86-88;  Nature-Study  and  Life,  Hodge,  chapters  18-21;  Junior  Audu- 
bon Leaflets;  Birds  of  Eastern  North  America,  Chapman,  9.  403: 
Field  Book  of  Wild  Birds  and  Their  Music,  Mathews,  pp.  251-254; 
Nature-Study  in  Elementary  Schools,  Wilson,  p.  188. 

"  Winged  lute  that  we  call  a  bluebird, 

You  blend  in  a  silver  strain 

The  sound  of  the  latighing  waters. 

The  patter  of  spring's  sweet  rain, 
The  voice  of  the  winds,  the  sunshine. 

And  fragrance  of  blossoming  things. 
Ah!      You  are  an  April  poem, 
.  That  God  has  dowered  with  wings." 

— The  Bluebird,  Rexford. 

62  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  Bluebird 

Leading  thought — The  bluebird  is  related  to  the  robins  and  thrushes 
and  is  as  beneficial  as  it  is  beautiful.  We  should  study  its  habits  and 
learn  how  to  make  nesting  boxes  for  it,  and  protect  it  in  all  ways. 

Methods — The  observations  of  this  lesson  must  be  made  in  the  field 
and  by  the  pupils  individually.  Give  to  each  an  outline  of  questions  to 
answer  through  seeing.  There  should  follow  reading  lessons  on  the  blue- 
bird's value  to  us  and  its  winter  migrations,  and  the  lesson  should  end  in 
discussions  of  best  way  to  build  boxes  for  its  use  in  nesting  season,  its 
protection  from  cats  and  other  enemies. 

Observations — i.  Which  comes  North  earlier  in  spring  the  robin  or 
the  bluebird? 

2.  How  do  the  two  resemble  each  other  and  differ  from  each  other? 

3.  Describe  the  bluebirds'  song.     Do  they  sing  all  summer? 

4.  Describe  the  colors  of  the  bluebird  as  follows:  The  head,  back, 
breast,  under  parts,  wings,  tail.  How  does  the  male  bluebird  differ  from 
his  mate  in  colors? 

5.  Where  were  the  bluebirds  you  saw?  What  were  they  doing? 
If  feeding,  how  did  they  act? 

6.  Can  you  see  the  color  of  the  bluebird  as  plainly  when  it  is  in  a  tree 
as  when  it  is  flying?     If  not,  why? 

7.  Where  do  the  bluebirds  build  their  nests?  Of  what  material 
are  the  nests  made?     Do  both  parents  work  at  the  nest  building? 

8.  What  is  the  color  of  the  eggs?  How  do  the  young  birds  look, 
when  old  enough  to  leave  the  nest,  as  compared  with  their  parents? 

9.  What  do  the  bluebirds  eat?  How  do  they  benefit  us?  Do  they 
do  our  fruit  any  injury? 

10.  What  can  we  do  to  induce  the  bluebirds  to  live  near  our  houses? 
How  can  we  protect  them? 

11.  Where  do  the  bluebirds  spend  the  winter? 

12.  Make  a  colored  picture  of  a  bluebird.  How  can  we  tell  the 
bluebird  from  the  indigo  bunting? 

13.  What  are  the  bluebirds'  chief  enemies? 

Supplementary  reading — Nestlings  of  Forest  and  Marsh,  Wheelock, 
p.  62;  True  Bird  Stories,  Miller,  p.  12;  How  to  Attract  the  Birds, 
Blanchan;  Bird  Neighbors,  Blanchan;  Our  Birds  and  their  Nestlings, 
Walker,  p.  17;  Famihar  Wild  Animals,  Lottridge;  Audubon  Leaflet, 
No.  24. 

Hark!    'tis  the  bluebird's  venturous  strain 

High  on  the  old  fringed  elm  at  the  gate — 
Sweet-voiced,  valiant  on  the  swaying  bough, 

Alert,    elate, 
Dodging  the  fitful  spits  of  snow. 

New  England' s  poet-lanreate 
Telling  us  Spring  has  come  again! — Thomas  Bailey  Aldrich. 

Bird  Study 



Teacher's  Story 

"The  busy  nuthatch  climbs  his  tree 
Around  the  great  bole  spirally. 
Peeping  into  wrinkles  gray, 
Under  ruffled  lichens  gay. 
Lazily  piping  one  sharp  note 
From  his  silver  maiUd  throat." 

— Maurice  Thompson. 

LIHTE  and  mellow  is  the  ringing  "ank,  ank"  note  of  the 
nuthatch,  and  why  need  we  allude  to  its  nasal  timbre! 
While  it  is  not  a  strictly  musical  note,  it  has  a  most  enticing 
quality  and  translates  into  sound  the  picture  of  bare- 
branched  trees  and  the  feeling  of  enchantment  which 
permeates  the  forest  in  winter;  it  is  one  of  the  most 
"woodsy"  notes  in  the  bird  repertoire.  And  while  the  singer 
of  this  note  is  not  so  bewitching  as  his  constant  chum 
the  chickadee,  yet  it  has  many  interesting  ways  quite  its 
own.  Nor  is  this  "ank,  ank,"  its  only  note.  I  have  often 
heard  a  pair  talking  to  each  other  in  sweet  confidential  syllables,  "wit, 
wit,  wit"  very  different  from  the  loud  note  meant  for  the  world  at  large. 
The  nuthatches  and  chickadees  hunt  together  all  winter;  it  is  no  mere 
business  partnership  but  a  matter  of  congenial  tastes.  The  chickadees 
hunt  over  the  twigs  and  smaller  branches,  while  the  nuthatches  usually 
prefer  the  tree  trunks  and  the  bases  of  the  branches;  both  birds  hke 
the  looks  of  the  world  upside  down,  and  while  the  chickadee  hangs 
head  down  from  a  twig,  the  nuthatch  is  quite  likely  to  alight  head  down 
on  a  tree  bole,  holding  itself  safely  in  this  position  by  thrusting  its  toes 
out  at  right  angles  to  the  body,  thus  getting  a  firm  hold  upon  the  bark. 
Sometimes  its  foot  will  be  twisted  completely  around,  the  front  toes 
pointed  up  the  tree.  The  foot  is  well  adapted  for  clinging  to  the  bark  as 
the  front  toes  are  strong  and  the  hind  toe  is  very  long  and  is  armed  with 
a  strong  claw.  Thus  equipped,  this  bird  runs  about  on  the  tree  so 
rapidly,  it  has  earned  the  name  of  "tree  mouse".  It  often  ascends  a 
tree  trunk  spirally  but  is  not  so  hidebound  in  this  habit  as  is  the  brown 
creeper.  It  runs  up  or  down  freely  head  first  and  never  flops  down 
backwards  Hke  a  woodpecker. 

In  color  the  nuthatch  is  bluish  gray  above  with  white  throat  and 
breast  and  reddish  underparts.  The  sides  of  the  head  are  white;  the 
black  cap  extends  back  upon  the  neck  but  is  not  "pulled  down"  to  the 
eyes  like  the  chickadees.  The  wing  feathers  are  dark  brown  edged 
with  pale  gray.  The  upper  middle  tail  feathers  are  bluish  like  the  back; 
the  others  are  dark  brown  and  tipped  with  white  in  such  a  manner 
that  the  tail  when  spread  shows  a  broad  white  border  on  both  sides. 
The  most  striking  contrast  between  the  chickadee  and  nuthatch  in 
markings  is  that  the  latter  lacks  the  black  bib.  However,  its  entire  shape 
is  very  different  from  that  of  the  chickadee  and  its  beak  is  long 
and  slender,  being  as  long  or  longer  than  its  head,  while  the  beak  of 
the  chickadee  is  a  short,  sharp,  little  pick.  The  bill  of  the  nuthatch  is 
exactly  fitted  to  reach  in  crevices  of  the  bark  and  pull  out  hidmg 
insects,  or  to  hammer  open  the  shell  of  nut  or  acorn  and  get  both  the 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

meat  of  the  nut  and  the  grub  feeding  upon  it.  It  will  wedge  an  acorn 
into  a  seam  in  the  bark  and  then  throw  back  its  head,  woodpecker  fashion, 
and  drive  home  its  chisel  beak.     But  it  does  not   always  use  common 

sense  in  this  habit.  I  have  often 
seen  one  cut  off  a  piece  of  suet,  fly 
off  and  thrust  it  into  some  crevice 
and  hammer  it  as  hard  as  if  it  were 
encased  in  a  walnut  shell.  This 
always  seems  bad  manners,  like 
carrying  off  fruit  from  table  d'hote; 
but  the  nuthatch  is  polite  enough  in 
using  a  napkin,  for  after  eating  the 
suet,  it  invariably  wipes  its  bill  on  a 
branch,  first  one  side  then  the  other 
most  assiduously  until  it  is  perfectly 

The  nuthatches  are  a  great 
benefit  to  our  trees  in  winter,  for 
then  is  when  they  hunt  for  hiding 
pests  on  their  trunks.  Their  food 
consists  of  beetles,  caterpillars, 
pupae  of  various  insects,  also  seeds 
of  ragweed,  sunflowers,  acorns,  etc. 
While  the  nuthatch  finds  much  of 

The  white  breasted  nuthatch. 

its  food  on  trees,  yet  Mr.  Torrey  has  seen  it  awkwardly  turning  over 
fallen  leaves  hunting  for  insects,  and  Mr.  Baskett  says  it  sometimes 
catches  insects  on  the  wing  and  gets  quite  out  of  breath  from  this  un- 
usual exercise. 

It  is  only  during  the  winter  that  we  commonly  see  the  nuthatches,  for 
during  the  nesting  season,  they  usually  retire  to  the  deep  woods  where 
they  may  occupy  a  cavity  in  a  tree  used  by  a  woodpecker  last  year,  or 
may  make  a  hole  for  themselves  with  their  sharp  beaks.  The  nest  is  lined 
with  leaves,  feathers  and  hair;  from  five  to  nine  creamy,  speckled  eggs  are 
the  treasure  of  this  cave. 


The  Nuthatch 

Leading  thought — The  nuthatch  is  often  a  companion  of  the  chickadees 
and  woodpeckers.  It  has  no  black  bib,  like  the  chickadee,  and  it  alights 
on  a  tree  trunk  head  downward,  which  distinguishes  it  from  woodpeckers. 

Methods — This  bird,  like  the  chickadee  and  downy,  gladly  shares  the 
suet  banquet  we  prepare  for  them  and  may  be  observed  at  leisure  while 
"at  table."  The  contrast  between  the  habits  of  the  nuthatch  and  those 
of  its  companions  make  it  a  most  valuable  aid  in  stimulating  close  and 
keen  observation  on  the  part  of  the  pupils. 

Observations — i.  Where  have  you  seen  the  nuthatches?  Were 
they  with  other  birds?     What  other  birds? 

2.  Does  a  nuthatch  usually  alight  on  the  ends  of  the  branches  of  a 
tree  or  on  the  trunk  and  larger  limbs?  Does  it  usually  alight  head  down 
or  up  ?     When  it  runs  down  the  tree,  does  it  go  head  first  or  does  it  back 

Bird  Study 


down  ?     When  it  ascends  the  tree  does  it  follow  a  spiral  path  ?     Does  it  use 
its  tail  for  a  brace  when  climbing,  as  does  the  downy  ? 

3.  How  are  the  nuthatch's  toes  arranged  to  assist  it  in  climbing? 
Are  the  three  front  toes  of  each  foot  directed  downward  when  the  bird 
alights  head  downward?  How  does  it  manage  its  feet  when  in  this 
position  ? 

4.  What  is  the  general  color  of  the  nuthatch  above  and  below? 
The  color  of  the  top  and  sides  of  head?  Color  of  Back?  Wings?  Tail? 
Throat?     Breast? 

5.  Does  the  black  cap  come  down  to  the  eyes  on  the  nuthatch  as 
on  the  chickadee?     Has  the  nuthatch  a  black  bib? 

6.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  beak  of  the  'nuthatch?  For  what  is  it 
adapted?     How  does  it  differ  from  the  beak  of  the  chickadee? 

7.  What  is  the  food  of  the  nuthatch?  Where  is  it  found?  Does  it 
open  nuts  for  the  grubs  or  the  nut  meat?  Observe  the  way  it  strikes  its 
beak  into  the  suet,  why  does  it  strike  so  hard? 

8.  How  would  you  spell  this  bird's  note?  Have  you  heard  it  give 
more  than  one  note? 

9.  How  does  the  nuthatch  benefit  our  trees?  At  what  season  does 
it  benefit  them  most?     Why? 

10.  Where  do  the  nuthatches  build  their  nests?  Why  do  we  see 
the  nuthatches  oftener  in  winter  than  in  summer? 


Handbook  of  Nature-Stiidy 


Teacher's  Story 

"He  is  the  hero  of  the  woods;  there  are  courage  and  good  nature  enough  in  that  corn- 
pact  little  body,  which  you  may  hide  in  your  fist,  to  supply  a  whole  groveful  of  May 
songsters.  He  has  the  Spartan  virtue  of  an  eagle,  the  clieerfubiess  of  a  thrush,  the 
tiimbleness  of  Cock  Sparrow,  the  endurance  of  the  sea-birds  condensed  into  his  tiny 
frame,  and  there  have  been  added  a  pcrtncss  ayid  ingenuity  all  Jiis  own.  His  curiosity 
is  immense,  and  his  audacity  equal  to  it;  I  have  even  had  one  alight  tipon  the  barrel  of 

the  gun  over  my  shoulders  as  I  sat  quietly  itndcr  his  tree." 

— Ernest  Ingersoll. 

OAVEVER  careless  we  may  be  of  our  bird  friends 
when  we  are  in  the  midst  of  the  luxurious  life  of 
summer,  even  the  most  careless  among  us  give 
pleased  attention  to  the  birds  that  bravely  endure 
with  us  the  rigors  of  winter.  And  when  this 
winged  companion  of  winter  proves  to  be  the  most 

fascinating  little  ball  of  feathers  ever  created,  constantly   overflowing 

with  cheerful  song,  our  pleased    attention   changes  to    active    delight. 

Thus  it  is,  that  in  all  the  lands  of  snowy  winters  the  chickadee  is  a  loved 

comrade  of  the  country  wayfarer;  that  happy  song  "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" 

finds  its  way  to  the  dullest  consciousness  and  the  most  callous  heart. 
The    chickadees    appear     in 

small  flocks  in  the  winter  and 

often  in  company  with  the  nut- 
hatches.    The  chickadees  work 

on  the  twigs  and  ends  of  bran- 
ches,    while     the    nuthatches 

usually  mine  the    bark    of    the 

trunk  and  larger   branches,    the 

former  hunting  insect  eggs  and 

the  latter,  insects  tucked  away 

in  winter  quarters.     When  the 

chickadee  is  prospecting  for  eggs, 

it  looks  the  twig  over,  first  above 

and  then  hangs  head  down  and 

inspects  it  from  below;    it  is  a 

thorough    worker     and    doesn't 

intend    to     overlook    anything 

whatever;  and  however  busily  it 

is  hunting,  it  always  finds  time 

for  singing;  whether  on  the  wing 

or  perched  upon  a  twig  or  hang- 
ing   from    it    like    an    acrobat, 

head  down,  it    sends    forth    its 

happy  "chickadeedee"  to  assure 

us  that  this  world  is  all  right  and 

good  enough  for  anybody.     Be- 

sides  this 


it    begins    in 

February  to  sing  a  most  seduc- 
tive   "fee-bee,"   giving   a  rising 


Bird  Study 


inflection  to  the  first  syllable  and  a  long,  falling  inflection  to  the  last, 
which  makes  it  a  very  different  song  from  the  short,  jerky  notes  of  the 

phoebe-bird,  which  cuts 
the  last  syllable  short 
and  gives  it  a  rising  in- 
flection. More  than  this, 
the  chickadee  has  some 
chatty  conversational 
notes,  and  now  and  then 
performs  a  bewitching 
little  yodle,  which  is  a  fit 
expression  of  its  own 
delicious  personality. 

The  general  effect  of 
the  colors  of  the  chicka- 
dee is  grayish  brown 
above  and  grayish  white 
below.  The  top  of  the 
head  is  black,  the  sides 
white,  and  it  has  a 
seductive  little  black 
bib  under  its  chin.  The 
back  is  grayish,  the 
wings  and  tail  are  dark 
gray,  the  feathers  having 
white  margins.  The 
breast  is  grayish  white 
changing    to    buff    or 

^,  .  ,    ,  .      ,  brownish    at    the    sides 

Chickadee  entering  her  nest.  ^^^  ^^^^^^      j^  -^  ^^^^^ 

called  the  "Black-capped  Titmouse,"  and  it  may  always  be  distin- 
guished by  black  cap  and  black  bib.  It  is  smaller  than  the  English 
sparrow;  its  beak  is  a  sharp  little  pick  just  fitted  for  taking  insect  eggs 
off  twigs  and  from  under  bark.  Insects  are  obliged  to  pass  the  winter 
in  some  stage  of  their  existence,  and  many  of  them  wisely  remain 
in  the  egg  until  there  is  something  worth  doing  in  the  way  of  eating. 
These  eggs  are  glued  fast  to  the  food  trees  by  the  mother  insect  and 
thus  provides  abundant  food  for  the  chickadees.  It  has  _  been 
estimated  that  one  chickadee  will  destroy  several  hundred  insect 
eggs  in  one  day,  and  it  has  been  proven  that  orchards  frequented  by  these 
birds  are  much  more  free  from  insect  pests  than  other  orchards  in  the 
same  locality.  They  can  be  enticed  into  orchards  by  putting  up  beef  fat 
or  bones  and  thus  we  can  secure  their  valuable  service.  In  summer  these 
birds  attack  caterpillars  and  other  insects. 

When  it  comes  to  nest  building,  if  the  chickadees  cannot  find  a  house 
to  rent  they  proceed  to  dig  out  a  proper  hole  from  some  decaying  tree, 
which  they  line  with  moss,  feathers,  fur  or  some  other  soft  material. 
The  nest  is  often  not  higher  than  six  to  ten  feet  from  the  ground.  One 
which  I  studied  was  in  a  decaying  fence  post.  The  eggs  are  white, 
sparsely  speckled  and  spotted  with  lilac  or  rufous.  The  young  birds  are 
often  eight  in  number  and  how  these  fubsy  birdlings  manage  to  pack 
themselves  in  such  a  small  hole  is  a  wonder,  and  probably  gives  them  good 
discipline  in  bearing  hardships  cheerfully. 


Handbook  oj  Nature-Study 

Reference — Useful   Birds  and   Their   Protection,    Forbush,   p.    163; 
Birds  of  Village  and  Field,  Merriams;    Bird  Neighbors,  Blancham. 

The  Chickadee 

Leading  thought — The  chickadee  is  as  useful  as  it  is  delightful;  it 
remains  in  the  North  during  winter,  working  hard  to  clear  our  trees  of 
insect  eggs  and  singing  cheerily  all  day.  It  is  so  friendly  that  we  can 
induce  it  to  come  even  to  the  window  sill,  by  putting  out  suet  to  show  our 
friendly  interest. 

Methods — Put  beef  fat  on  the  trees  near  the  schoolhouse  in  December 
and  replenish  it  afresh  about  every  two  or  three  weeks.  The  chick- 
adees will  come  to  the  feast  and  may  be  observed  all  winter.  Give  the 
questions  a  few  at  a  time  and  let  the  children  read  in  the  bird  books  a 
record  of  the  benefits  derived  from  this  bird. 

I       Observations — i.     Where    have    you    seen    the    chickadees?      What 
were  they  doing?     Were  there  several  together? 

2.  What  is  the  common  song  of  the  chickadee?  What  other  notes 
has  it?  Have  you  heard  it  yodle?  Have  you  heard  it  sing  "fe-bee,  fee- 
bee."  Flow  does  this  song  differ  from  that  of  the  phoebe-bird?  Does  it 
sing  on  the  wing  or  when  at  rest? 

3.  What  is  the  color  of  the  chickadee:  Top  and  sides  of  head, 
back,   wings,   tail,   throat,   breast,  under  parts? 

Compare  size  of  chickadee  with  that  of  English  sparrow. 

4.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  chickadee's  bill  and  for  what  is  it 
adapted?  What  is  the  food  in  winter?  Where  does  the  bird  find  it? 
How  does  it  act  when  feeding  and  hunting  for  food? 

5.  Does  the  chickadee  usually  alight  on  the  ends  of  the  branches  or 
on  the  larger  portions  near  the  trunk  of  the  tree? 

6.  How  can  you  distinguish  the  chickadees  from  their  companions, 
the  nuthatches? 

7.  Does  the  chickadee  ever  seem  discouraged  by  the  snow  and  cold 
weather?     Do  you  know  another  name  for  the  chickadee?' 

8.  Where  does  it  build  its  nest?  Of  what  material?  Have  you 
ever  watched  one  of  these  nests?     If  so,  tell  about  it. 

9.  How  does  the  chickadee  benefit  our  orchards  and  shade  trees? 
How  can  we  induce  it  to  feel  at  home  with  us  and  w^ork  for  us? 

Siipplementary  reading — "Foster  Babv,"  Nestlings  of  Forest  and 
Marsh;  "Ch'-geegee-lokh-sis,"  Ways  of  Wood  Folk;  "Why  a  Chickadee 
Goes  Crazy,"  Animal  Heroes,  Seton;  "The  Titmouse,"  a  poem,  by 


Bird  Study  69 

Teacher's  Story 

RIEND  Downy  is  the  name  this  attractive  little  neighbor 

..^a^  I  has  earned,  because  it  is  so  friendly  to  those  of  us  who 

L^^i^i*-.  ^  love  trees.     Watch  it  as  it  hunts  each  crack  and  crevice 

I  -.=.«^~  of  the  bark  of  your  favorite  apple  or  shade  tree,  seeking 

"    ^    ^  assiduously  for  cocoons  and  insects  hiding  there,  and 

you  will  soon,  of  your  own  accord,  call  it  friend;   you 

will  soon  love  its  black  and  white  uniform,  which  consists  of  a  black  coat 

speckled  and  barred  with  white  and  whitish  gray  vest  and  trousers.     The 

front  of  the  head  is  black  and  there  is  a  black  streak  extending  backward 

from  the  eye  with  a  white  streak  above  and  also  below  it.     The  male  has 

a  vivid  red  patch  on  the  back  of  the  head,  but  his  wife  shows  no  such 

giddiness;    plain  black  and  white  are  good  enough  for  her.     In  both 

sexes  the  throat  and  breast  are  white,  the  middle  tail  feathers  black, 

while  the  side  tail  feathers  are  white,  barred  with  black  at  their  tips. 

The  downy  has  a  way  of  alighting  low  down  on  a  tree  trunk  or  at  the 
base  of  a  larger  branch  and  climbing  upward  in  a  jerky  fashion;  it  never 
runs  about  over  the  tree  nor  does  it  turn  around  and  go  down  head  first, 
like  the  nuthatch ;  if  it  wishes  to  go  down  a  short  distance  it  accomplishes 
this  by  a  few  awkward,  backward  hops;  but  when  it  really  wishes  to 
descend,  it  flies  off  and  down.  The  downy,  as  other  woodpeckers,  has  a 
special  arrangement  of  its  physical  machinery  to  enable  it  to  climb 
trees  in  its  own  manner.  In  order  to  grasp  the  bark  on  the  side  of  the 
tree  more  firmly,  its  fourth  toe  is  turned  backward 
to  work  as  companion  with  the  thumb.  Thus  it  is 
able  to  clutch  the  bark  as  with  a  pair  of  nippers, 
two  claws  in  front  and  two  claws  behind;  and 
as  another  aid,  the  tail  is  arranged  to  prop  the 
bird,  like  a  bracket.  The  tail  is  rounded  in 
shape  and  the  middle  feathers  have_  rather  strong  ^^.^^'^  ^ 
quills;  but  the  secret  of  the  adhesion  of  the  tail 
to  the  bark  lies  in  the  great  profusion  of  barbs  which,  at  the  edge 
of  the  feathers,  offer  bristling  tips,  and  when  applied  to  the  side 
of  the  tree  act  like  a  wire  brush  with  all  the  wires  pushing  downward. 
This  explains  why  the  woodpecker  cannot  go  backward  without  lifting 
the  tail. 

But  even  more  wonderful  than  this,  is  the  mechanism  by  which 
the  downy  and  hairy  woodpeckers  get  their  food,  which  consists 
largely  of  wood-borers  or  larvae  working  under  the  bark.  When  the 
woodpecker  wishes  to  get  a  grub  in  the  wood,  it  seizes  the  bark  firmly 
with  its  feet,  uses  its  tail  as  a  brace,  throws  its  head  and  upper  part  of 
the  body  as  far  back  as  possible,  and  then  drives  a  powerful  blow 
with  its  strong  beak.  The  beak  is  adapted  for  just  this  purpose, 
as  it  is  wedge-shaped  at  the  end,  and  is  used  like  a  mason's  drill 
sometimes,  and  sometimes  like  a  pick.  When  the  bird  uses  its  beak  as  a 
pick,  it  strikes  hard,  deliberate  blows  and  the  chips  fly;  but  when  it  is 
drilling,  it  strikes  rapidly  and  not  so  hard  and  quickly  drills  a  small, 
deep  hole  leading  directly  to  the  burrow  of  the  grub.  When  finally  the 
grub  is  reached,  it  would  seem  well  nigh  impossible  to  pull  it  out 
through  a  hole  which  is  too  small    and    deep  to  admit  of  the  beak 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

being  used  as  pincers.  This  is  another  story  and  a  very  interesting 
one;  the  downy  and  hairy  can  both  extend  their  tongues  far  beyond  the 
point  of  the  beak,  and  the  tip  of  the 
tongue  is  hard  and  horny  and  covered 
with  short  backward-slanting  hooks 
acting  Hke  a  spear  or  harpoon,  and 
when  thrust  into  the  grub  pulls  it  out 
easily  (see  initial).  The  bones  of  the 
tongue  have  a  spring  arrangement; 
when  not  in  use,  the  tongue  lies  soft  in 
the  mouth,  like  a  wrinkled  earth- 
worm, but  when  in  use,  the  bones 
spring  out,  stretching  it  to  its  full 
length  and  it  is  then  slim  and  small. 
The  process  is  like  fastening  a  pencil 
to  the  tip  of  a  glove  finger;  when 
drawn  back  the  finger  is  wrinkled 
together,  but  when  thrust  out, 
straightens.  This  spring  arrangement 
of  the  bones  of  the  woodpecker's 
tongue  is  a  marvellous  mechanism 
and  should  be  studied  through  pic- 
tures; see  Birds,  Eckstrom,  Chap- 
ter XIV;  The  Bird,  Beebe,  p.  122; 
"The  Tongues  of  Woodpeckers," 
Lucas,  U.  S.  Department  of  Agricul- 

Since  the  food  of  the  downy  and 
the  hairy  is  where  they  can  get  it  all  winter,  there  is  no  need  for  them  to 
go  South ;  thus  they  stay  with  us  and  work  for  us  the  entire  year.  We 
should  try  to  make  them  feel  at  home  with  us  in  our  orchards  and  shade 
trees  by  putting  up  pieces  of  beef  fat,  to  convince  them  of  their  welcome. 
No  amount  of  free  food  will  pauperize  these  birds,  for  as  soon  as  they 
have  eaten  of  the  fat,  they  commence  to  hunt  for  grubs  on  the  tree  and 
thus  earn  their  feast.     They  never  injure  live  wood. 

James  AVhitcomb  Riley  describes  the  drumming  of  the  woodpecker  as 
"weeding  out  the  lonesomeness"  and  that  is  exactly  what  the  drumming 
of  the  woodpecker  means.  The  male  selects  some  dried  limb  of  hard 
wood  and  there  beats  out  his  well-known  signal  which  advertises  far  and 
near,  "Wanted,  a  wife."  And  after  he  wins  her,  he  still  drums  on  for  a 
time  to  cheer  her  while  she  is  busy  with  her  family  cares.  The  wood- 
pecker has  no  voice  for  singing,  like  the  robin  or  thrush;  and  luckil}',  he 
does  not  insist  on  singing,  like  the  peacock  whether  he  can  or  not.  He 
chooses  rather  to  devote  his  voice  to  terse  and  business-like  conversation ; 
and  when  he  is  musically  inclined,  he  turns  drummer.  He  is  rather 
particular  about  his  instrument  and  having  found  one  that  is  sufficiently 
resonant  he  returns  to  it  day  after  day.  While  it  is  ordinarily  the  male 
that  drums  I  once  observed  a  female  drumming.  I  told  her  that  she  was 
a  bold  minx  and  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  herself;  but  within  twenty 
minutes  she  had  drummed  up  two  red-capped  suitors  who  chased  each 
other  about  with  great  animosity,  so  her  performance  was  evidently  not 
considered  improper  in  woodpecker  society.     I  have  watched  a  rival  pair 

Friend  Downy. 
Drawing    by  A.  L.  Fuertes. 

Bird  Study  71 

of  male  downies  fight  for  hours  at  a  time,  but  their  duel  was  of  the  French 
brand,— much  fuss  and  no  bloodshed.  They  advanced  upon  each  other 
with  much  haughty  glaring  and  scornful  bobs  of  the  head,  but  when  they 
were  sufficiently  near  to  stab  each  other  they  beat  a  mutual  and  circum- 
spect retreat.  Although  we  hear  the  male  downies  drumming  every 
spring,  I  doubt  if  they  are  calHng  for  new  wives;  I  believe  they  are,  in- 
stead, calling  the  attention  of  their  lawful  spouses  to  the  fact  that  it  is 
time  for  nest  building  to  begin.  I  have  come  to  this  conclusion  because 
the  downies  and  hairies  which  I  have  watched  for  years  have  always  come 
in  pairs  to  partake  of  suet  during  the  entire  winter;  and  while  only  one  at 
a  time  sits  at  meat  and  the  lord  and  master  is  somewhat  bossy,  yet  they 
seem  to  get  along  as  well  as  most  married  pairs. 

The  downy 's  nest  is  a  hole,  usually  in  a  partly  decayed  tree;  an  old 
apple  tree  is  a  favorite  site  and  a  fresh  excavation  is  made  each  year. 
There  are  from  four  to  six  white  eggs,  which  are  laid  on  a  nice  bed  of  chips 
as  fine  almost  as  sawdust.  The  door  to  the  nest  is  a  perfect  circle  and 
about  an  inch  and  a  quarter  across. 

The  hairy  woodpecker  is  fully  one-third  larger  than  the  downy, 
measuring  nine  inches  from  tip  of  beak  to  tip  of  tail,  while  the  downy 
measures  only  about  six  inches.  The  tail  feathers  at  the  side  are  white 
for  the  entire  length,  while  they  are  barred  at  the  tips  in  the  downy. 
There  is  a  black  "parting"  through  the  middle  of  the  red  patch  on  the 
back  of  the  hairy's  head.  The  two  species  are  so  much  alike  that  it  is 
difficult  for  the  beginner  to  tell  them  apart.  Their  habits  are  very 
similar,  except  that  the  hairy  lives  in  the  woods  and  is  not  so  commonly 
seen  in  orchards  or  on  shade  trees.  The  food  of  the  hairy  is  much  like 
that  of  the  downy  and  it  is,  therefore,  a  beneficial  bird  and  should  be 


The  Downy  Woodpecker 

Leading  thought — The  downy  woodpecker  remains  with  us  all  winter, 
feeding  upon  insects  that  are  wintering  in  crevices  and  beneath  the  bark 
of  our  trees.  It  is  fitted  especially  by  shape  of  beak,  tongue,  feet  and  tail 
to  get  such  food  and  it  is  a  "friend  in  need"  to  our  forest,  shade  and 
orchard  trees. 

Methods — If  a  piece  of  beef  fat  be  fastened  upon  the  trunk  or  branch 
of  a  tree,  which  can  be  seen  from  the  schoolroom  windows,  there  will  be 
no  lack  of  interest  in  this  friendly  little  bird;  for  the  downy  will  sooner 
or  later  find  this  feast  spread  for  it  and  will  come  every  day  to  partake. 
Give  out  the  questions,  a  few  at  a  time,  and  discuss  the  answers  with  the 

Observations — i.  What  is  the  general  color  of  the  downy  above  and 
below?  The  color  of  the  top  of  the  head?  Sides  of  the  head?  The 
throat  and  breast?  The  color  and  markings  of  the  wings?  Color  and 
markings  of  the  middle  and  side  tail-feathers? 

2.  Do  all  downy  woodpeckers  have  the  red  patch  at  the  back  of  the 
head?     If  not,  why? 

3.  What  is  the  note  of  the  downy?  Does  it  make  any  other  sound? 
Have  you  ever  seen  one  drumming?  At  what  time  of  the  year?  On 
what  did  it  drum  ?  What  did  it  use  for  a  drumstick  ?  What  do  you  sup- 
pose was  the  purpose  of  this  music? 

y2  Hmidbook  of  Nature-Study 

4.  How  does  the  downy  climb  a  tree  trunk?  Kow  does  it  descend? 
How  do  its  actions  differ  from  those  of  the  nuthatch? 

5.  How  are  the  woodpecker's  toes  arranged  to  help  it  climb  a  tree 
trunk?     How  does  this  arrangement  of  toes  differ  from  that  of  other 


6.  How  does  the  downy  use  its  tail  to  assist  it  in  climbing?  What 
is  the  shape  of  the  tail  and  how  is  it  adapted  to  assist? 

7.  What  does  the  downy  eat  and  where  does  it  find  its  food? 
Describe  how  it  gets  at  its  food.  What  is  the  shape  of  its  bill  and  how  is 
it  fitted  for  getting  the  food?  Tell  how  the  downy 's  tongue  is  used  to 
spear  the  grub. 

8.  Why  does  the  downy  not  go  South  in  winter? 

9.  Of  what  use  is  this  bird  to  us?  How  should  we  protect  it  and 
entice  it  into  our  orchards? 

10.  Write  an  English  theme  on  the  subject  "How  the  downy  builds 
its  nest  and  rears  its  young". 

Supplementary  reading — The  Woodpeckers,  Eckstorm:  Bird  Neigh- 
bors, Blanchan-  Winter  Neighbors   Burroughs. 

A  few  seasons  ago  a  doivny  woodpecker,  probably  the  individual  one  who  is  now 
my  wint'^r  neighbor,  began  to  drum  early  in  March  in  a  partly  decayed  apple-tree 
that  stands  in  the  edge  of  a  narroiv  strip  of  ivoodland  near  me.  When  the  morning 
was  still  and  mild  I  wotild  often  hear  him  through  my  window  before  I  was  up,  or  by 
half-past  six  o'clock,  and  he  would  keep  it  up  pretty  briskly  till  nine_  or  ten  o'clock, 
in  this  respect  resembling  the  grouse,  which  do  most  of  their  drumming  in  the  forenoon. 
His  drum  was  the  stub  of  a  dry  limb  about  the  size  of  one's  wrist.  The  heart  was 
decayed  and  gone,  but  the  outer  shell  ivas  loud  and  resonant.  The  bird  zvould  keep 
his  position  there  for  an  hour  at  a  time.  Between  his  drummings  he  would  preen  his 
plumage  and  listen  as  if  for  the  response  of  the  female,  or  for  the  drum  of  some  rival. 
How  sivift  his  head  would  go  when  he  was  delivering  his  blows  upon  the_  limb!  His 
beak  ivore  the  surface  perceptibly.  When  he  wished  to  change  the  key,  which  was  quite 
often,  he  would  shift  his  position  an  inch  or  tivo  to  a  knot  which  gave  out  a  higher, 
shriller  note.  When  I  climbed  up  to  examine  his  drum  he  ivas  much  disturbed.  I  did 
not  know  he  was  in  the  vicinity,  but  it  seems  he  saw  me  from  a  near  tree,  and  came 
in  haste  to  the  neighboring  branches,  and  with  spread  plumage  and  a  sharp  note  de- 
manded plainly  enough  zvhat  my  business  was  with  his  drum.  I  ivas  invading  his 
privacy,  desecrating  his  shrine,  and  the  bird  ivas  much  put  out.  After  some  weeks 
the  female  appeared;  he  had  literally  drummed  up  a  mate;  his  urgent  and  oft-repeated 
advertisement  was  answered.  Still  the  drumming  did  not  cease,  but  was  quite  as 
fervent  as  before.  If  a  mate  coidd  be  won  by  drumming  she  could  be  kept  and  enter- 
tained by  more  drumming;  courtship  should  not  end  with  marriage.  If  the  bird  felt 
musical  before,  of  course  he  felt  much  more  so  now.  Besides  that,  the  gentle  deities 
needed  propitiating  in  behalf  of  the  nest  and  young  as  well  as  in  behalf  of  the  mate. 
After  a  time  a  second  female  came,  when  there  ivas  war  between  the  two.  I  did  not  see 
them  come  to  blows,  but  I  saw  one  female  pursuing  the  other  about  the  place,  and  giving 
her  no  rest  for  several  days.  She  was  evidently  trying  to  run  her  out  of  the  neighbor- 
hood. Now  and  then  she,  too,  would  drum  briefly  as  if  sending  a  triumphant  message 
to  her  mate. — Winter  Neighbors,  John  Burroughs. 

Bird  Study 


Teacher's  Story 

The  sapsucker  is  a  woodpecker 
that  has  strayed  from  the  paths  of 
virtue;  he  has  fallen  into  tempta- 
tion by  the  wayside,  and  instead  of 
drilling  a  hole  for  the  sake  of  the 
grub  at  the  end  of  it,  he  drills  for 
drink.  He  is  a  tippler,  and  sap  is 
his  beverage ;  and  he  is  also  fond  of 
the  soft,  inner  bark.  He  often 
drills  his  holes  in  regular  rows  and 
thus  girdles  a  limb  or  a  tree,  and  for 
this  is  pronounced  a  rascal  by  men 
who  have  themselves  ruthlessly  cut 
from  our  land  millions  of  trees  that 
should  now  be  standing.  It  is 
amusing  to  see  a  sapsucker  take  his 
tipple,  unless  his  saloon  happens  to 
be  one  of  our  prized  young  trees. 
He  uses  his  bill  as  a  pick  and  makes 
the  chips  fly  as  he  taps  the  tree; 
then  he  goes  away  and  taps  another 
tree.  After  a  time  he  comes  back 
and  holding  his  beak  close  to  the 
hole  for  a  long  time  seems  to  be 
sucking  up  the  sap ;  he  then  throws 
back  his  head  and  "swigs"  it  down 

with  every  sign  of  delirious  enjoyment.  The  avidity  with  which  these 
birds  come  to  the  bleeding  wells  which  they  have  made,  has  in  it  all  the 
fierceness  of  a  toper  crazy  for  drink;  they  are  particularly  fond  of  the  sap 
of  the  mountain  ash,  apple,  thorn  apple,  canoe  birch,  cut-leaf  birch,  red 
maple,  red  oak,  white  ash  and  young  pines.  However,  the  sapsucker 
does  not  live  solely  on  sap,  he  also  feeds  upon  insects  whenever  he  can 
find  them.  When  feeding  their  young,  the  sapsuckers  are  true  fly- 
catchers snatching  insects  while  on  the  wing.  The  male  has  the  crown 
and  throat  crimson,  edged  with  black  with  a  black  Hne  extending  back  of 
the  eye,  bordered  with  white  above  and  below.  There  is  a  large,  black 
circular  patch  on  the  breast  which  is  bordered  at  the  sides  and  below  with 
lemon  yellow.  The  female  is  similar  to  the  male  and  has  a  red  forehead, 
but  she  has  a  white  bib  instead  of  a  red  one  beneath  the  chin.  The 
distinguishing  marks  of  the  sapsucker  should  be  learned  by  the  pupils. 
The  red  is  on  the  front  of  the  head  instead  of  on  the  crowTi,  as  is  the  case 
with  the  downy  and  hairy;  when  it  is  flying  the  broad,  white  stripes 
extending  from  the  shoulders  backward,  form  a  long,  oval  figure,  which  is 
very  characteristic. 

The  sapsuckers  spend  the  winter  in  the  Southern  States  where  they 
drill  wells  in  the  white  oak  and  other  trees.  From  Virginia  to  Northern 
New  York  and  New  England,  where  they  breed,  they  are  seen  only  during 
migration,  which  occurs  in  April;  then  the  birds  appear  two  and  three 
together  and  are  very  bold  in  attacking  shade  trees,  especially  the  white 

The  yellow  bellied  sapsucker. 
Drawing  by  L.  A.  Fuertes. 

74  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

birch.  They  nest  only  in  the  Northern  United  States  and  northward. 
The  nest  is  usually  a  hole  in  a  tree  about  forty  feet  from  the  ground,  and 
is  likely  to  be  in  a  dead  birch. 

The  Sapsucker 

Leading  thought — The  sapsucker  has  a  red  cap,  a  red  bib  and  a  yel- 
low breast;  it  is  our  only  woodpecker  that  does  injury  to  trees.  We 
should  learn  to  distinguish  it  from  the  downy  and  hairy,  as  the  latter  are 
among  the  best  bird  friends  of  the  trees. 

MetJiods — Let  the  observations  begin  with  the  study  of  the  trees  which 
have  been  attacked  by  the  sapsucker,  which  are  almost  everywhere 
common,  and  thus  lead  to  an  interest  in  the  culprit. 

Observations — i.  Have  you  seen  the  work  of  the  sapsucker?  Are 
the  holes  drilled  in  rows  completely  around  the  tree?  If  there  are  two 
rows  or  more,  are  the  holes  set  evenly  one  below  another? 

2.  Do  the  holes  sink  into  the  wood,  or  are  they  simply  through  the 
bark?  Why  does  it  injure  or  kill  a  tree  to  be  girdled  with  these  holes? 
Have  you  ever  seen  the  sapsuckers  making  these  holes?  If  so,  how  did 
they  act? 

3.  How  many  kinds  of  trees  can  you  find  punctured  by  these  holes? 
Are  they  likely  to  be  young  trees? 

4.  How  can  you  distinguish  the  sapsucker  from  the  other  wood- 
peckers? How  have  the  hairy  and  downy  which  are  such  good  friends  of 
the  trees  been  made  to  suffer  for  the  sapsucker's  sins? 

5.  What  is  the  color  of  the  sapsucker  as  follows:  Forehead,  sides 
of  head,  back,  wings,  throat,  upper  and  lower  breast?  What  is  the 
difference  in  color  between  the  male  and  female? 

6.  In  what  part  of  the  country  do  the  sapsuckers  build  their  nests? 
Where  do  they  make  their  nests  and  how? 

Supplementary  reading — Bird  Neighbors,  Blanchan;  Birds,  Bees  and 
Sharp  Eyes,  John  Burroughs. 

In  the  following  ivintcr  the  same  bird  (a  sapsucker)  tapped  a  maple-tree  in  front 
of  my  window  in  fifty-six  places;  and,  whoi  the  day  was  sunny  and  the  sap  oozed  out 
he  spent  most  of  his  time  there.  He  knew  the  good  sap-days,  and  was  on  hand  promptly 
for  his  tipple;  cold  and  cloudy  days  he  did  not  appear.  He  k}iew  which  side  of  the 
tree  to  tap,  too,  and  avoided  the  sunless  northern  exposure.  When  one  series  of  well- 
holes  failed  to  supply  him,  he  luould  sink  another,  drilling  through  the  bark  with  great 
ease  and  quickness.  Then,  when  the  day  was  warm,  and  the  sap  ran  freely,  he  would 
have  a  regular  sugar-maple  debauch,  sitting  there  by  his  wells  hour  after  hour,  and  as 
fast  as  they  became  filled  sipping  out  the  sap.  This  he  did  in  a  gentle,  carressing 
manner  that  was  very  suggestive.  He  made  a  row  of  wells  near  the  foot  of  the  tree,  and 
other  rows  higher  up,  and  he  would  hop  up  and  doivn  tlw  trunk  as  they  became  filled. — 
Winter   Neighbors,   John   Burroughs. 

Bird  Study 



Teacher  s  Story 

The  red-head  is  well  named,  for  his 
helmet  and  visor  show  a  vivid  glow- 
in  s:  crimson  that  stirs  the  sensibili- 
ties  of  the  color  lover.  It  is 
readily  distinguished  from  the  other 
woodpeckers  because  its  entire  head 
and  bib  are  red.  For  the  rest,  it  is 
a  beautiful  dark  metallic  blue  with 
the  lower  back,  a  band  across  the 
wing,  and  the  under  parts  white; 
its  outer  tail  feathers  are  tipped 
with  white.  The  female  is  colored 
like  the  male,  but  the  young  have 
the  head  and  breast  gray,  streaked 
with  black  and  white,  and  the 
wings  barred  with  black.  It  may 
make  its  nest  by  excavating  a  hole 
in  a  tree  or  a  stump  or  even  in  a 
telegraph  pole;  the  eggs  are  glossy 
white.  This  woodpecker  is  quite 
different  in  habits  from  the  hairy 
and  downy,  as  it  likes  to  flit  along 
from  stump  to  fence-post  and 
catch  insects  on  the  wing,  like  a 
fly-catcher.     The  only  time  that  it  pecks  wood  is  when  it  is  making  a  hole 

for  its  nest. 

As  a  drummer,  the  red-head  is  most  adept  and  his  roll  is  a  long  one. 
He  is  an  adaptable  fellow,  and  if  there  is  no  resonant  dead  limb  at  hand, 
he  has  been  known  to  drum  on  tin  roofs  and  Hghtning  rods;  and  once  we 
also  observed  him  executing  a  most  brilliant  solo  on  the  wire  of  a  barbed 
fence.  He  is  especially  fond  of  beechnuts  and  acorns,  and  being  a  thrifty 
fellow  as  well  as  musical,  in  time  of  plenty  he  stores  up  food  against  time 
of  need.  He  places  his  nuts  in  crevices  and  forks  of  the  branches  or  m 
holes  in  trees  or  any  other  hiding  place.  He  can  shell  a  beechnut  quite 
as  cleverly  as  can  the  deer  mouse;  and  he  is  own  cousin  to  the  Carpenter 
Woodpecker  of  the  Pacific  Coast,  which  is  also  red-headed  and  which  dnlls 
holes  in  the  oak  trees  wherein  he  drives  acorns  like  pegs  for  later  use. 

The  red-headed  woodpecker. 

Drawing  by  L.  A.  Fuertes. 

The  Red-headed  Woodpecker 

Leading  thought— The  red-headed  woodpecker  has  very  different  habits 
from  the  downvand  is  not  so  useful  to  us.  _  It  lives  upon  nuts  and  fruit 
and  such  insects  as  it  can  catch  upon  the  wmg.  ,      i  ^, 

Methods— li  there  is  a  red-head  in  the  vicinity  of  your  school  the 
children  will  be  sure  to  see  it.  Write  the  following  questions  upon  the 
blackboard  and  ofTer  a  prize  to  the  first  one  who  will  make  a  note  on 
where  the  red-head  stores  his  winter  food. 

76  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Observations — i.  Can  you  tell  the  red-head  from  the  other  wood- 
peckers?    What  colors  especially  mark  his  plumage? 

2.  Where  does  the  red-head  nest?     Describe  eggs  and  nest? 

3.  What  have  you  observed  the  red-head  eating?  Have  you 
noticed  it  storing  nuts  and  acorns  for  the  winter?  Have  you  noticed  it 
flying  off  with  cherries  or  other  fruit? 

4.  AVhat  is  the  note  of  the  red-head?  Have  you  ever  seen  one 
drumming?  What  did  he  use  for  a  drum?  Did  he  come  back  often  to 
this  place  to  make  his  music? 

Supplementary  reading — "The  House  That  Fell"  in  Nestlings  of  Forest 
and  Marsh;  Our  Birds  and  their  Nestlings,  p.  90;  Birds,  Bees  and 
Sharp  Eyes,  John  Burroughs. 

Another  trait  our  wood  peckers  have  that  endears  them  to  me,  and  that  has  never  been 
pointedly  noticed  by  our  ornithologists,  is  their  habit  of  drumming  in  the  spring.  They 
are  songless  birds,  and  yet  all  are  musicians;  they  make  the  dry  limbs  eloquent  of  the 
coming  change.  Did  you  think  that  loud,  sonorous  hammering  which  proceeded  from 
the  orchard  or  from  the  near  woods  on  that  still  March  or  April  morning  was  only  some 
bird  getting  its  breakfast?  It  is  downy,  but  he  is  not  rapping  at  the  door  of  a  grub; 
he  is  rapping  at  the  door  of  spring,  and  the  dry  limb  thrills  beneath  the  ardor  of  his 
blows.  Or,  later  in  the  season,  in  the  dense  forest  or  by  some  remote  mountain  lake, 
does  that  measured  rhythmic  beat  that  breaks  upon  the  silence,  first  three  strokes  follow- 
ing each  other  rapidly,  succeeded  by  tivo  louder  ones  with  longer  intervals  between  them, 
and  that  has  an  effect  upon  the  alert  ear  as  if  the  solitude  itself  had  at  least  found  a 
voice — does  that  suggest  anything  less  than  a  deliberate  musical_  performance?  In 
fact,  our  ivoodpeckers  are  just  as  characteristically  drummers  as  is  the  ruffed  grouse, 
and  they  have  their  particular  limbs  and  stubs  to  which  they  resort  for  that  purpose. 
Their  need  of  expression  is  apparently  just  as  great  as  that  of  the  song-birds,  and  it 
is  not  surprising  that  they  should  have  found  out  that  there  is  music  in  a  dry,  seasoned 
limb  ivhich  can  be  evoked  beneath  their  beaks. 

The  woodpeckers  do  not  each  have  a  particular  dry  limb  to  which  they  resort  at  all 
times  to  drum,  like  the  one  I  have  described.  The  woods  are  full  of  suitable  branches, 
and  they  drum  more  or  less  here  and  there  as  they  are  in  quest  of  food;  yet  I  am  con- 
vinced each  one  has  its  favorite  spot,  like  the  grouse,  to  which  it  resorts,  especially  in 
the  morning.  The  sugar-maker  in  the  maple  woods  may  notice  that  this  sound  pro- 
ceeds from  the  same  tree  or  trees  about  his  camp  with  great  regularity.  A  woodpecker 
in  my  vicinity  has  drummed  for  two  seasons  on  a  telegraph-pole,  and  he  makes  the  wires 
and  glass  insulators  ring.  Another  drums  on  a  thin  board  on  the  end  of  a  long  grape- 
arbor,  and  on  still  mornings  can  be  heard  a  long  distance. 

A  friend  of  mine  in  a  Southern  city  tells  me  of  a  red-headed  woodpecker  that  drums 
upon  a  lightning-rod  on  his  neighbor's  house.  Nearly  every  clear,  still  morning  a.t 
certain  seasons,  he  says,  this  musical  rapping  may  be  heard.  "H<?  alternates  his 
tapping  u'ith  his  stridulous  call,  and  the  effect  on  a  cool,  autumn-like  morning  is  very 
pleasing." — John  Burroughs,  in  Birds,  Bees  and  Sharp  Eyes. 

Bird  Study 


Young  -flickers  "Two  is  company, 

three  is  a  crowd." 

Photo  by  J.  M.  Schreck. 


Teacher's  Story 

The  first  time  I  ever  saw  a  flicker  I 
said,  "What  a  wonderful  meadow- 
lark  and  what  is  it  doing  on  that 
ant  hill?"  But,  another  glance 
revealed  to  me  a  red  spot  on  the 
back  of  the  bird's  neck,  and  as  soon 
as  I  was  sure  that  it  was  not  a 
bloody  gash,  I  knew  that  it  marked 
no  meadow-lark.  The  top  of  the 
flicker's  head  and  its  back  are  slaty- 
gray,  which  is  much  enlivened  by 
a  bright  red  band  across  the  nape 
of  the  neck.  The  tail  is  black  above 
and  yellow  tipped  with  black  below; 
the  wings  are  black,  but  have  a 
beautiful  luminous  yellow  beneath, 
which  is  very  noticeable  during 
flight.  There  is  a  locket  adorning 
the  breast  which  is  a  thin,  black 
crescent,  much  narrower  than  that 
of  the  meadow-lark.  Below  the 
locket,  the  breast  is  yellowish  white 
thickly  marked  with  circular,  black  spots.  The  throat  and  sides  of  the 
head  are  pinkish  brown,  and  the  male  has  a  black  mustache  extending 
backward  from  the  beak  with  a  very  fashionable  droop.  Naturally 
enough  the  female,  although  she  resembles  her  spouse,  lacks  his  mus- 
tache. The  beak  is  long,  strong,  somewhat  curved  and  dark  colored. 
This  bird  is  distinctly  larger  than  the  robin.  The  white  patch  on  the 
rump  shows  little  or  none  when  the  bird  is  at  rest,  for  this  white  mark  is 
a  "color  call,"  it  being  a  rear  signal  by  means  of  which  the  flock  of 
migrating  birds  are  able  to  keep  together  in  the  night.  The  yellow- 
hammer's  flight  is  wave-Hke  and  jerky  and  quite  different  from  that 
of  the  meadow-lark;  nor  does  it  stay  so  constantly  in  the  meadows 
but  often  frequents  woods  and  orchards. 

The  flicker  has  many  names,  such  as  golden-winged  woodpecker, 
yellow-hammer,  high-hole,  yarup,  wake-up,  clape  and  many  others.  It 
earned  the  name  of  high-hole  because  of  its  habit  of  excavating  its  nest 
high  up  in  trees,  usually  between  ten  and  twenty-five  feet  from  the 
ground.  It  especially  loves  an  old  apple  tree  as  a  site  for  a  nest,  and 
most  of  our  large  old  orchards  can  boast  of  a  pair  of  these  handsome  birds 
during  the  nesting  season  of  May  and  June.  The  flicker  is  not  above 
renting  anv  house  he  finds  vacant,  excavated  by  some  other  birds  last 
year.  He  "earned  his  name  of  yarup  or  wake-up  from  his  spring  song, 
which  is  a  rollicking,  jolly  "wick-a,  wick-a,  wick-a-wick"  a  song  com- 
monly heard  the  last  of  March  or  early  April.  The  chief  food  of  the  flicker 
is  ants,  although  it  also  eats  beetles,  flies  and  wild  fruit,  but  does  little  or 
no  darnage  to  planted  crops.  So  long  has  it  fed  upon  ants,  that  its  tongue 
has  become  modified,  like  that  of  the  ant-eater;  it  is  covered  with  a 
sticky  substance;    and  when  it  is  thrust  into  an  ant  hill,  all  of  the  little 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

citizens,  disturbed  in  their  communal  labors,  at  once  I  ravely  attack  the 
intruder  and  become  glued  fast  to  it,  and  are  thus  withdrawn  and  trans- 
ferred to  the  capacious  stomach  of  the  bird.  It  has  been  known  to  eat 
three  thousand  ants  at  a  single  meal. 

Those  who  have  observed  the  flicker  during  the  courting  season  declare 
him  to  be  the  most  siUy  and  vain  of  all  bird  wooers.  Mr.  Baskett  says: 
"When  he  wishes  to  charm  his  sweetheart  he  mounts  a  small  twig  near 
her,  and  lifts  his  wings,  spreads  his  tail,  and  begins  to  nod  right  and  left  as 
he  exhibits  his  mustache  to  his  charmer.  He  sets  his  jet  locket  first  on 
one  side  of  the  twig  and  then  on  the  other.  He  may  even  go  so  far  as  to 
turn  his  head  half  around  to  show  her  the  pretty  spot  on  his  back  hair. 
In  doing  all  this  he  performs  the  most  ludicrous  antics  and  has  the  silliest 
expression  of  face  and  voice  as  if  in  losing  his  heart,  as  some  one  phrases 
it,  he  had  lost  his  head  also." 

The  nest  hole  is  quite  deep  and  the  white  eggs  are  from  four  to  ten  in 
number.  The  feeding  of  the  young  flickers  is  a  painful  process  to  watch. 
The  parent  takes  the  food  into  its  own  stomach  and  partially  digests  it, 
then  thrusting  its  own  bill  down  the  throat  of  the  young  one  it  pumps  the 
soft  food  into  it  "kerchug,  kerchug,"  until  it  seems  as  if  the  young  one 
must  be  shaken  to  its  foundations.  The  young  flickers  as  soon  as  they 
leave  the  nest  climb  around  freely  on  the  home  tree  in  a  delightful,  playful 


Flicker  coming  from  tJie  m  st. 
Photo  by  George  Fiske,  Jr. 

Bird  Study  79 


The  Flicker 

Leading  thought — The  flicker  is  a  true  woodpecker  but  has  changed  its 
habits  and  spends  much  of  its  time  in  meadows  hunting  for  ants  and  other 
insects;  it  makes  its  nest  in  trees,  Hke  its  relatives.  It  can  be  distin- 
guished from  the  meadow-lark  by  the  white  patch  above  the  tail  which 
shows  during  flight. 

Methods — This  is  one  of  the  most  important  of  birds  of  the  meadow 
and  the  work  may  be  done  in  September  when  there  are  plenty  of  young 
flickers,  which  have  not  learned  to  be  wary.  The  observations  may  be 
made  in  the  field,  a  few  questions  given  at  a  time. 

Observations — i.  Where  do  you  find  the  flicker  in  the  summer  and 
early  autumn?     How  can  you  tell  it  from  the  meadow-lark  in  color  and 

in  flight  ? 

2.  What  is  it  doing  in  the  meadows?     How  does  it  manage  to  trap 

ants  '^ 

3.  What  is  the  size  of  the  flicker  as  compared  to  the  robin  ?  What 
is  its  general  color  as  compared  to  the  meadow-lark? 

4.  Describe  the  colors  of  the  flicker  as  follows :  Top  and  sides  of  the 
head,  back  of  the  neck,  lower  back,  tail,  wings,  throat  and  breast.  The 
color  and  shape  of  the  beak.  Is  there  a  difference  in  markings  between 
the  males  and  females? 

5.  Does  the  patch  of  white  above  the  tail  show,  except  when  the 
bird  is  flying?     Of  what  use  is  this  to  the  bird? 

6.  Whatisthe  flicker's  note?     At  what  time  of  spring  do  you  hear  it 


7.  Where  does  the  flicker  build  its  nest  and  how?  What  is  the 
color  of  the  eggs?     How  many  are  there? 

8.  How  does  it  feed  its  young?     How  do  the  young  flickers  act? 

9.  How  many  names  do  you  know  for  the  flicker? 
Supplementary  reading— ''The   Bird  of  Many   Names,"   Nestlings  of 

Forest  and  Marsh;  A  Fellow  of  Expedients,  Long;  Our  Birds    and  Their 
Nestlings,  p.  187;   Audubon  Leaflet  No.  5. 

The  high-hole  appears  to  drum  more  promiscuously  than  does  the  downy.  He 
utters  his  long,  loud  spring  call,  whick-whick-whick ,  and  then  begins  to  rap  unth  hts 
beak  upon  his  perch  before  the  last  note  has  reached  your  ear  I  have  seen  him  drum 
sitting  upon  the  ridge  of  the  barn.  The  log-cock,  or  pileated  woodpecker,  the  largest 
and  wildest  of  our- Northern  species,  I  have  never  heard  drum.     His  blows  should  wake 

^ ''when  the  woodpecker  is  searching  for  food,  or  laying  siege  to  some  hidden  grub, 
the  sound  of  his  hammering  is  dead  or  snuffled,  and  ts  heard  but  a  few'  yards.  It  ts 
only  upon  dry,  seasoned  timber,  freed  of  its  bark,  that  he  beats  his  reveille  to  spring  and 
woos  his  mate.—]onN    Burroughs,  in  Birds,  Bees  and  bhaqj  byes. 

8o  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


Teaclicr's  Story 

The  first  intimation  we  have  in  early  spring,  that 
the  meadow-lark  is  again  with  us,  comes  to  us 
through  his  soft,  sweet,  sad  note  which  Van  Dyke 
describes  so  graphically  when  he  says  it,  "leaks 
slowly  upward  from  the  ground."  One  wonders 
how  a  bird  can  express  happiness  in  these  melan- 
choly, sweet,  slurred  notes  and  yet  undoubtedly  it 
is  a  song  expressing  joy,  the  joy  of  returning  home, 
the  happiness  of  love  and  of  nest  building.  But 
after  one  has  spent  a  winter  in  the  Gulf  States,  and 
has  witnessed  the  slaughter  there  of  this  most 
valuable  bird;  and  after  the  northern  stomach  and 
heart  have  turned  sick  at  the  sight  of  breasts  once  so  full  of  song  done 
brown  on  the  luncheon  table,  one  no  longer  wonders  that  the  meadow- 
lark's  song  of  joy  is  fraught  with  sadness.  There  should  be  national  laws 
to  protect  the  birds  that  are  of  value  to  one  part  of  the  United  States  from 
being  slaughtered  in  their  winter  haunts,  unless  they  are  there  a  nuisance 
and  injurious  to  crops,  which  is  not  the  case  with  the  meadow-lark. 

The  meadow-lark,  as  is  indicated  by  its  name,  is  a  bird  of  the  meadow. 
It  is  often  confused  with  another  bird  of  the  meadow  which  has  ver}^ 
different  habits,  the  flicker.  The  two  are  approximately  of  the  same  size 
and  color  and  each  has  a  black  crescent  or  locket  on  the  breast  and  each 
shows  the  "white  feather"  during  flight.  The  latter  is  the  chief  dis- 
tinguishing character;  the  outer  tail  feathers  of  the  meadow-lark  are 
white,  while  the  tail  feathers  of  the  flicker  are  not  white  at  all,  but  it  has 
a  single  patch  of  white  on  th:=  rump.  The  flight  of  the  two  is  quite 
different.  The  lark  lifts  itself  by  several  sharp  movements  and  then 
soars  smoothly  over  the  course,  while  the  flicker  makes  a  continuous  up 
and  down,  wave-like  flight.  The  songs  of  the  two  would  surely  never  be 
confused,  for  the  meadow-lark  is  among  our  sweetest  singers,  to  which 
class  the  flicker  with  his  "flick  a  flick"  hardly  belongs. 

The  color  s  of  the  meadow-lark  are  most  harmonious  shades  of  brown 
and  yeiiow,  well  set  off  by  the  black  locket  on  its  breast.  Its  wings  are 
light  brown,  each  feather  being  streaked  with  black  and  brown ;  the  line 
above  the  eye  is  yellow,  bordered  with  black  above  and  below;  a  buff  line 
extends  from  the  beak  backward  over  the  crown.  The  wings  are  light 
brown  and  have  a  mere  suggestion  of  white  bars;  portions  of  the  outer 
feathers  on  each  side  of  the  tail  are  white,  but  this  white  does  not  show 
except  during  flight.  The  sides  of  the  throat  are  greenish,  the  middle 
part  and  breast  are  lemon-yellow,  with  the  large,  black  crescent  just  below 
the  throat.  The  beak  is  long,  strong  and  black,  and  the  meadow-lark  is 
decidedly  a  low-browed  bird,  the  forehead  being  only  slightly  higher  than 
the  upper  part  of  the  beak.  It  is  a  little  larger  than  the  robin  which  it 
rivals  in  plumpness. 

The  meadow-lark  has  a  particular  liking  for  meadows  which  border 
streams.  It  sings  when  on  the  ground,  on  the  bush  or  fence  and  while  on 
the  wing;  and  it  sings  during  the  entire  period  of  its  northern  stay,  from 
April  to  November,  except  while  it  is  moulting  in  late  summer.  Mr. 
Mathews,     who  is  an  eminent  authority  on  bird  songs,  says  that  the 

Bird  Study 


meadow-larks  of  New  York  have  a  different  song  from  those  of  Vermont 
or  Nantucket,  although  the  music  has  always  the  same  general  character- 
istics. The  western  species  has  a  longer  and  more  complex  song  than 
ours  of  the  East.  It  is  one  of  the  few  California  birds  that  is  a  genuine 
joy  to  the  eastern  visitor;  during  February  and  March  its  heavenly 
music  isas  pervasive  as  the  California  sunshine. 

The  meadow-lark. 
Drawing  by  L.  A.  Fuertes. 

The  nest  is  built  in  a  depression  in  the  ground  near  a  tuft  of  grass;  it  is 
constructed  of  coarse  grass  and  sticks  and  is  lined  with  finer  grass;  there 
is  usually  a  dome  of  grass  blades  woven  above  the  nest;  and  often  a  long, 
covered  vestibule  leading  to  the  nest  is  made  in  a  similar  fashion.  This  is 
evidently  for  protection  from  the  keen  eyes  of  hawks  and  crows.  The 
eggs  are  laid  about  the  last  of  May  and  are  usually  from  five  to  seven  in 
number;  they  are  white,  speckled  with  brown  and  purple.  The  young 
larks  are  usuallv  large  enough  to  be  out  of  the  way  before  haying  time  in 


Handbook  of  N ature-Study 

The  food  of  the  meadow-lark  during  the  entire  year,  consists  almost 
exclusively  of  insects  which  destroy  the  grass  of  our  meadows.  It  eats 
great  quantities  of  grasshoppers,  cut  worms,  chinch  bugs,  army  worms, 
wire  worms,  weevils,  and  also  destroys  some  weed  seeds.  Each  pupil 
should  make  a  diagram  in  his  note-book  showing  the  proportions  of  the 
meadow-lark's  different  kinds  of  food.  This  may  be  copied  from  Audubon 
Leaflet  No.  3.  The  killing  of  the  meadow-lark  in  New  York  State  is  a 
punishable  offence,  as  it  should  be  in  every  state  of  the  Union.  Everyone 
who  owns  a  meadow  should  use  his  influence  to  the  uttermost  to  protect 
this  valuable  bird.  It  has  been  estimated  that  the  meadow-larks  save  to 
every  township  where  hay  is  produced,  twenty-flve  dollars  each  year  on 
this  crop  alone. 

The  meadow-lark's  covered  nest. 
Photo  by  Robert  Matheson 

The    Meadow-Lark 

Leading  thought — The  meadow-lark  is  of  great  value  in  delivering  tne 
grass  of  our  meadows  from  insect  destroyers.  It  has  a  song  which  we  all 
know;  it  can  be  identified  by  color  as  a  large,  light  brown  bird  with  white 
feathers  on  each  side  of  the  tail,  and  in  flight,  by  its  quick  up  and  down 
movements  finishing  with  long,  low,  smooth  sailing. 

Af£'i//o(f— September  and  October  are  good  months  for  observations  on 
the  flight,  song  and  appearance  of  the  meadow-lark,  and  also  for  learning 

Bird  Study  83 

how  to  distinguish  it  from  the  flicker.  The  notes  must  be  made  by  the 
pupils  in  the  field,  and  after  they  know  the  bird  and  its  song  let  them,  if 
they  have  opportunity,  study  the  bird  books  and  bulletins,  and  prepare 
written  accounts  of  the  way  the  meadow-lark  builds  its  nest  and  of  its 
economic  value. 

Observations — i.  Where  have  you  seen  the  meadow-lark?  Did 
you  ever  see  it  in  the  woods?  Describe  its  flight.  How  can  you  identify 
it  by  color  when  it  is  flying?  How  do  its  white  patches  and  its  flight 
differ  from  those  of  the  flicker? 

2.  Try  and  imitate  the  meadow-lark's  notes  by  song  or  whistle. 
Does  it  sing  while  on  the  ground,  or  on  a  bush  or  fence,  or  during  flight? 

3.  Note  the  day  when  you  hear  its  last  song  in  the  fall  and  also  its 
first  song  in  the  spring.  Does  it  sing  during  August  and  September? 
Why?  Where  does  it  spend  the  winter?  On  what  does  it  feed  while  in 
the  South?  How  are  our  meadow-larks  treated  when  on  their  southern 

4.  Is  the  meadow-lark  larger  or  smaher  than  the  robin?  Describe 
from  your  own  observation,  as  far  as  possible,  the  colors  of  the  meadow- 
lark  as  follows:  Top  of  head;  line  above  the  eye;  back;  wings;  tail; 
throat;  breast;  locket;  color  and  shape  of  beak.  Make  a  sketch  of  your 
own  or  a  copy  from  Louis  Fuertes'  excellent  picture  of  the  meadow-lark  in 
the  Audubon  Leaflet,  and  color  it  accurately. 

5.  When  is  the  nest  built;  where  is  it  placed;  of  what  materialis  it 
built  ?  How  is  it  protected  from  sight  from  above  ?  Why  this  protection, 
How^  many  eggs?     What  are  their  colors  and  markings? 

6.  What  is  the  food  of  the  meadow-lark?  Copy  the  diagram  from 
the  Audubon  leaflet,  showing  the  proportions  of  the  different  kinds  of 
insects  which  it  destroys.  Why  should  the  farmers  of  the  South  also 
protect  the  meadow-lark  by  law? 

Supplementary  reading — Audubon  Education  Leaflet  No.  3;  Farmers' 
Buhetin  No.  54,  U.  S.  Dept.  of  Agr.;  "A  Pioneer,"  in  Nestlings  of  Forest 
and  Marsh,  Wheelock. 

Sweet,  sweet,  sweet!     O  happy  that  I  am! 

{Listen  to  the  meadow-larks,  across  the  fields  that  sing!) 
Sweet,  sweet,  sweet!     O  subtle  breath  of  balm, 

O  winds  that  blow,  O  buds  that  grow,  O  rapture  of  the  spring! 

Sweet,  sweet,  sweet!     O  happy  ivorld  that  is!    _  _ 

Dear  heart,  I  hear  across  the  fields  my  matchng  pipe  and  call. 

Sweet,  sweet,  sweet!     O  world  so  full  of  bliss. 

For  life  is  love,  the  world  is  love,  and  love  ts  over  all! 

— Ina  Coolbrith. 


Handbook  of  Naturc-Siitdy 


Teacher's  Story 

So  dainty  in  plumage  and  hue, 

A  study  in  grey  and  in  brown. 
How  little,  hoiv  little  we  hneiv 

The  pest  he  ivoidd  prove  to  the  town! 
From  dawn  until  daylight  grou's  dim, 

Perpetual  chatter  and  scold. 
No  winter  migration  for  him. 

Not  even  afraid  of  the  cold! 
Scarce  a  song-bird  he  fails  to  molest, 

Belligerent,  meddlesome  thing! 
Wherever  he  goes  as  a  guest 

He  is  sure  to  remain  as  a  King. 

— Mary   Isabella  Forsyth. 

The  English  sparrow,  like  the  poor  and  the  house-fly,  is  always  with 
us ;  and  since  he  is  here  to  stay,  let  us  make  him  useful  if  we  can  devise 
any  means  of  doing  so.  There  is  no  bird  that  gives  the  pupils  a  more 
difficult  exercise  in  describing  colors  and  markings  than  does  he;  and  his 
wife  is  almost  equally  difficult.  I  have  known  fairly  skilled  ornithologists 
to  be  misled  by  some  variation  in  color  of  the  hen  sparrow,  and  it  is  safe 
to  assert  that  the  majority  of  people  "do  not  know  her  from  Adam." 
The  male  has  the  top  of  the  head  gray  with  a  patch  of  reddish  brown  on 
either  side;  the  middle  of  the  throat  and  upper  breast  is  black;  the  sides 
of  the  throat  white ;  the  lower  breast  and  under  parts  grayish  white;  the 

Bird  Study  85 

back  is  brown  streaked  with  black ;  the  tail  is  brown,  rather  short,  and  not 
notched  at  the  tip ;  the  wings  are  brown  with  two  white  bars  and  a  jaunty 
dash  of  reddish  brown.  The  female  has  the  head  grayish  brown,  the 
breast,  throat  and  under  parts  grayish  white;  the  back  is  brown  streaked 
with  black  and  dirty  yellow,  and  she  is,  on  the  whole,  a  "washed  out" 
looking  lady  bird.  The  differences  in  color  and  size  between  the  English 
sparrow  and  the  chippy  are  quite  noticeable,  as  the  chippy  is  an  inch 
shorter  and  far  more  slender  in  appearance,  and  is  especially  marked  by 
the  reddish  brown  crown. 

When  feeding,  the  English  sparrows  are  aggressive,  and  their  lack  of 
table  manners  make  them  the  "goops"  among  all  birds;  in  the  winter 
they  settle  in  noisy  flocks  on  the  street  to  pick  up  the  grain  undigested  by 
the  horses,  or  in  barnyards  where  the  grain  has  been  scattered  by  the 
cattle.  They  only  eat  weed  seeds  when  other  food  fails  them  in  the 
winter,  for  they  are  a  civilized  bird  even  if  they  do  not  act  so,  and  they 
much  prefer  the  cultivated  grains.  It  is  only  during  the  nesting  season 
that  they  destroy  insects  to  any  extent ;  over  one-half  the  food  of  nestlings 
is  insects,  such  as,  weevils,  grasshoppers,  cutworms,  etc.;  but  this  good 
work  is  largely  offset  by  the  fact  that  these  same  nestlings  will  soon  give 
their  grown-up  energies  to  attacking  grain  fields,  taking  the  seed  after 
sowing,  later  the  new  grain  in  the  milk,  and  later  still  the  ripened  grain  in 
the  sheaf.  Wheat,  oats,  rye,  barley,  corn,  sorghum  and  rice  are  thus 
attacked.  Once  I  saw  on  the  upper  Nile  a  native  boat  loaded  with  millet 
which  was  attacked  by  thousands  of  sparrows;  when  driven  off  by  the 
sailors  they  would  perch  on  the  rigging,  like  flies,  and  as  soon  as  the  men 
turned  their  backs  they  would  drop  like  bullets  to  the  deck  and  gobble 
the  grain  before  they  were  again  driven  off.  English  sparrows  also 
destroy  for  us  the  buds  and  blossoms  of  fruit  trees  and  often  attack  the 
ripening  fruit. 

The  introduction  of  the  EngUsh  sparrow  into  America  is  one  of  the 
greatest  arguments  possible  in  favor  of  nature-study;  for,  ignorance  of 
nature-study  methods  in  this  single  instance,  costs  the  United  States 
millions  of  dollars  every  year.  The  English  sparrow  is  the  European 
house  sparrow  and  people  had  a  theory  that  it  was  an  insect  eater,  but 
never  took  the  pains  to  ascertain  if  this  theory  were  a  fact.  About  1850, 
some  people  with  more  zeal  than  wisdom  introduced  these  birds  into  New 
York,,  and  for  twenty  years  afterwards  there  were  other  importations  of 
the  sparrows.  In  twenty  years  more,  people  discovered  that  they  had 
taken  great  pains  to  establish  in  our  country  one  of  the  worst  nuisances 
in  all  Europe.  In  addition  to  all  the  direct  damage  which  the  English 
sparrows  do,  they  are  so  quarrelsome  that  they  have  driven  away  many 
of  our  native  beneficial  birds  from  our  premises,  and  now  vociferously 
acclaim  their  presence  in  places  which  were  once  the  haunts  of  birds  with 
sweet  songs.  After  thev  drive  off  the  other  birds  they  quarrel  among 
themselves,  and  there  is  no  rest  for  tired  ears  in  their  vicmity.  There  are 
various  noises  made  by  these  birds  which  we  can  understand  if  we  are 
willing  to  take  the  pains:  The  harassing  chirping  is  their  song;  they 
squall  when  frightened  and  peep  plaintively  when  lonesome,  and  make  a 
disagreeable   racket  when   fighting. 

But  to  "give  the  devil  his  due"  we  must  admit  that  the  house  sparrow 
is  as  clever  as  it  is  obnoxious,  and  its  success  is  doubtless  partly  rhie  to  its 
superior  cleverness  and  keenness.     It  is  quick  to  take  a  hint,  if  sufficiently 

86  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

pointed ;  firing  a  shotgun  twice  into  a  flock  of  these  birds  has  driven  them 
from  our  premises;  and  tearing  down  their  nests  assiduously  for  a  month 
seems  to  convey  to  them  the  idea  that  they  are  not  welcome.  Another 
instance  of  their  cleverness  I  witnessed  one  day;  I  was  watching  a  robin, 
worn  and  nervous  with  her  second  brood,  fervently  hunting  earthworms 
in  the  lawn  to  fill  the  gaping  mouths  in  the  nest  in  the  Virginia  creeper 
shading  the  piazza.  She  finally  pulled  up  a  large,  pink  worm  and  a  hen 
sparrow  flew  at  her  viciously;  the  robin  dropped  the  worm  to  protect 
herself,  and  the  sparrow  snatched  it  and  carried  it  off  triumphantly  to  the 
grape  arbor  where  she  had  a  nest  of  her  own  full  of  gaping  mouths.  She 
soon  came  back,  and  at  a  safe  distance  watched  the  robin  pull  out  another 
worm,  and  by  the  same  tactics  again  gained  the  squirming  prize.  Three 
times  was  this  repeated  in  an  hour,  and  then  the  robin,  discouraged,  flew 
up  into  a  Norway  spruce  and  in  a  monologue  of  sullen  duckings  tried  to 
reason  out  what  had  happened. 

The  Enghsh  sparrow's  nest  is  quite  in  keeping  with  the  bird's  other 
quahties;  it  is  usually  built  in  a  hole  or  box  or  in  some  protected  comer 
beneath  the  eaves;  it  is  also  often  built  in  vines  on  buildings  and  occa- 
sionally in  trees.  It  is  a  good  example  of  "fuss  and  feathers";  coarse 
straw,  or  any  other  kind  of  material,  and  feathers  of  hens  or  of  other 
birds,'  mixed  together  without  fashion  or  form,  constitute  the  nest.  In 
these'  sprawling  nests  the  whitish,  brown  or  gray-flecked  eggs  are  laid 
and  the  young  reared;  and  so  far  as  I  can  ascertain,  no  one  has  ever 
counted  the  number  of  broods  reared  in  one  season.  The  nesting  begins 
almost  as  soon  as  the  snow  is  off  the  ground  and  lasts  until  late  fall. 

During  the  winter,  the  sparrows  gather  in  flocks  in  villages  and  cities, 
but  in  the  spring  they  scatter  out  through  the  country  where  they  can 
find  more  grain.  The  only  place  where  this  bird  is  welcome  is  possibly 
in  the  heart  of  a  great  citv,  where  no  other  bird  could  pick  up  a  Hveli- 
hood.  It  is  a  true  cosmopolite  and  is  the  first  bird  to  greet  the  traveler 
in  Europe  or  northern  Africa.  These  sparrows  will  not  build  in  boxes 
suspended  by  a  wire ;  and  they  do  not  like  a  box  where  there  is  no  restmg 
place  in  front  of  the  door  leading  to  the  nest. 

After  the  pupils  have  made  observations  upon  the  habits  of  the  house 
sparrow,  they  may  find,  in  the  following  books  and  bulletins,  facts  which 
will  teach  further  the  economic  importance  of  this  bird :  Birds  in  Their 
Relation  to  Man,  bv  Weed  and  Dearborn,  p.  144-  The  following  bulle- 
tins of  the  U.  S.  Department  of  Agriculture:  "English  Sparrow  m 
North  America;"  "Relation  of  Sparrows  to  Agriculture,"  S.  D.  Judd, 
Bulletin  15;    "The  Food  of  Nestlings,"  Yearbook  1900. 

The  English  Sparrow 

Leading  thought — The  English  sparrow  was  introduced  into  America 
by  people  who  knew  nothing  of  its  habits.  It  has  finally  over-run  our 
whole  countrv  and,  to  a  great  extent,  has  driven  out  from  towns  and 
villages  our  useful  American  song  birds  and  it  should  be  discouraged  and 
not  allowed  to  nest  around  our  houses  and  grounds.  As  a  sparrow  it  has 
interesting  habits  which  w^e  should  observe. 

Methods — Let  the  pupils  make  their  observations  in  the  street  or 
wherever  they  find  the  birds.     The  greatest  value  of  this  lesson  is  to  teach 

Bird  Stiidy  87 

the  pupils  to  observe  the  coloring  and  markings  of  a  bird  accurately  and 
describe  them  clearly.  This  is  the  best  of  training  for  later  work  with 
the  wild  birds. 

Observations — i.  How  many  kintls  of  birds  do  you  find  in  a  flock  of 
English  sparrows  ? 

2  .  The  ones  with  the  black  cravat  are  naturally  the  men  of  the 
family,  while  their  sisters,  wives  and  mothers  are  less  ornamented. 
Describe  in  your  note-book  or  from  memory  the  colors  of  the  cock  sparrow 
as  follows:  Top  of  head;  sides  of  the  head;  the  back;  the  tail;  the 
wings;  wing  bars;  throat  and  upper  breast;  lower  breast  and  under 

3.  Describe  the  hen  sparrow  in  the  same  manner  and  note  the 
difference  in  markings  between  the  two.  Are  the  young  birds,  when  they 
first  fly,  like  the  father  or  the  mother? 

4.  Compare  the  English  sparrow  with  the  chippy  and  describe  the 
differences  in  size  and  color. 

5.  Is  the  tail  when  the  bird  is  not  flying,  square  across  the  end  or 

notched  ? 

6.  AYhat  is  the  shape  of  the  beak?  For  what  sort  of  food  is  this 
shaped  beak  meant? 

7.  What  is  the  food  of  the  English  sparrows  and  w^here  do  they  find 
it?  Describe  the  actions  of  a  flock  feeding  in  the  yard  or  street.  Are 
the  English  sparrows  kindly  or  quarrelsome  in  disposition  ? 

8.  Why  do  the  Enghsh  sparrows  stay  in  the  North  during  the  coldest 
of  winters?     Do  they  winter  out  in  the  country  or  in  villages? 

g.     Describe  by  observation  how  they  try  to  drive  away  the  robins  or 

other  native  birds. 

10.  Describe  the  nest  of  this  sparrow.  Of  what  material  is  it  made? 
How  is  it  supported?     How  sheltered?     Is  it  a  well-built  nest? 

11.  Describe  the  eggs?  How  many  broods  are  raised  a  year?  What 
kind  of  food  do  the  parents  give  the  nestlings  ? 

12.  If  you  have  ever  seen  these  sparrows  do  anything  interesting 
describe  the  circumstance? 

13.  In  what  ways  are  these  birds  a  nuisance  to  us? 

14.  How  much  of  Enghsh  sparrow  talk  do  you  understand? 

15.  How  can  we  build  bird-boxes  so  that  the  English  sparrows  will 
not  try  to  take  possession  of  them  ? 

Supplementary  reading— "A  Street  Troubadour,"  in  Lives  of  the 
Hunted,  Thompson  Seton.  First  Book  of  Birds,  Miller,  p.  81.  "Bliz- 
zard" and  "Three  Sparrows  that  live  in  the  House,"  from  True  Bird 
Stories,  Miller. 

Do  not  tire  the  child  with  questions;  lead  him  to  question  yon,  instead.  Be 
sure,  in  any  case,  that  he  is  more  interested  in  the  subject  than  ui  the  questions 
about  the  subject. 

88  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


Teacher  s  Story 

HIS  midget  lives  in  our  midst,  and  yet,  not  among  all 
bird  kind,  is  there  one  which  so  ignores  us  as  does  the 
chippy.  It  builds  its  nest  about  our  houses,  it  hunts 
for  food  all  over  our  premises,  it  sings  like  a  tuneful 
grasshopper  in  our  ears,  it  brings  up  its  young  to  dis- 
regard us,  and  every  hour  of  the  day  it  "tsip-tsips"  us 
to  scorn.  And,  although  it  has  well  earned  the  name 
of  "doorstep  sparrow,"  since  it  frugally  gathers  the 
crumbs  about  our  kitchen  doors,  yet  it  rarely  be- 
comes tame  or  can  be  induced  to  eat  from  the  hand,  unless  it  is  trained 
so  to  do  as  a  nestling. 

Its  cinnamon-brown  cap  and  tiny  black  forehead,  the  gray  streak  over 
the  eye  and  the  black  through  it,  the  gray  cheeks  and  the  pale  gray, 
unspotted  breast  distinguish  it  from  the  other  sparrows,  although  its 
brown  back  streaked  with  darker,  and  brown  wings  and  blackish  tail 
have  a  very  sparrowish  look;  the  two  whitish  wing  bars  are  not  striking; 
it  has  a  bill  fitted  for  shelling  seeds,  a  characteristic  of  all  the  sparrows. 
Despite  its  seed-eating  bill,  the  chippy's  food  is  thirty-eight  per-cent 
insects,  and  everyone  should  read  what  Mr.  Forbush  says  about  the  good 
work  this  little  bird  does  in  our  gardens  and  to  our  trees.  It  takes  in 
large  numbers  cabbage  caterpillars,  the  pea  louse,  the  beet  leaf-miners, 
leaf  hoppers,  grasshoppers,  cutworms,  and  does  its  best  to  annihilate  the 
caterpillars  of  the  terrible  gypsy  and  browntail  moths.  In  fact,  it  works 
for  our  benefit  even  in  its  vegetable  food,  as  this  consists  largely  of  the 
seeds  of  weeds  and  undesirable  grasses.  It  will  often  fly  up  from  its 
perch  after  flies  or  moths,  like  a  flycatcher;  and  the  next  time  we  note  it, 
it  will  be  hopping  around  hunting  for  the  crumbs  we  have  scattered  for  it 
on  the  piazza  floor.  The  song  of  the  chippy  is  more  interesting  to  it  than 
to  us;  it  is  a  continuous  performance  of  high,  shrill,  rapid  notes,  all  ahke 
so  far  as  I  can  detect ;  when  it  utters  many  of  these  in  rapid  succession  it 
is  singing,  but  when  it  gives  them  singly  they  are  call  notes  or  mere 

One  peculiarity  of  the  nest  has  given  this  sparrow  the  common  name 
of  hair-bird,  for  the  Hning  is  almost  always  of  long,  coarse  hair,  usually 
treasure  trove  from  the  tails  of  horses  or  cattle  switched  off  against  boards, 
burs  or  other  obstacles.  Of  the  many  nests  I  have  examined,  black 
horsehair  was  the  usual  lining;  but  two  nests  in  our  yard  show  the 
chippv  to  be  a  resourceful  bird;  evidently  the  hair  market  was  exhausted 
and  the  soft,  dead  needles  of  the  white  pine  were  used  instead  and  made 
a  most  satisfactory  lining.  The  nest  is  tiny  and  shallow;  the  outside  is 
of  fine  grass  or  rootlets  carefully  but  not  closely  woven  together;  it  is 
placed  in  vine  or  tree,  usually  not  more  than  ten  or  fifteen  feet  from  the 
ground;  a  vine  of  a  piazza  is  a  favorite  nesting  site.  Once  a  bold  pair 
built  directly  above  the  entrance  to  our  front  door  and  mingled  cheer- 
fully with  other  visitors.  Usually,  however,  the  nest  is  so  hidden  that  it 
is  not  discovered  until  after  the  leaves  have  fallen.  The  eggs  are  light 
blue  tinged  with  green,  with  fine,  purphsh  brown  specks  or  markings 
scrawled  about  the  larger  end. 

Bird  Study 


The  chippy  comes  to  us 
in  April  and  usually  raises 
two  broods  of  from  three  to 
five  "piggish"  youngsters, 
which  even  after  they  are  fully 
grown  follow  pertinaciously 
their  tired  and  "frazzled  out" 
parents  and  beg  to  be  fed; 
the  chippy  parents  evidently 
have  no  idea  of  discipline 
but  indulge  their  teasing 
progeny  until  our  patience,  at 
least,       is      exhausted.      The 

The  chipping  sparrow. 

young  differ  from  the  parents  in  having  streaked  breasts  and  lacking  the 
reddish  crown.  In  the  fall  the  chippy  parents  lose  their  red-brown 
caps  and  have  streaked  ones  instead;  and  then  they  fare  forth  in  flocks 
for  a  seed-harvest  in  the  fields.  Thereafter  our  chippy  is  a  stranger  to 
us;  we  do  not  know  it  in  its  new  garb,  and  it  dodges  into  the  bushes  as 
we  pass,  as  if  it  had  not  tested  our  harmlessness  on  our  own  door-stone. 
Reference — Wild  Life,  Ingersol,  p.   132. 


Leading  thought — The  chipping  sparrow  is  a  cheerful  and  useftil  little 
neighbor.  It  builds  a  nest,  lined  with  horsehair,  in  the  shrubbery  and 
vines  about  our  homes  and  works  hard  in  ridding  our  gardens  of  insect 
pests  and  seeds  of  weeds. 

Methods — Begin  this  lesson  with  a  nest  of  the  chippy,  which  is  so 
unmistakable  that  it  may  be  identified  when  found  in  the  winter.  Make 
the  study  of  this  nest  so  interesting  that  the  pupils  will  wait  anxiously 
to  watch  for  the  birds  which  made  it.  As  soon  as  the  chippies  appear, 
the  questions  should  be  asked,  a  few  at  a  time,  giving  the  children  several 
weeks  for  the  stud  v. 

The  Xcst 

Observations — i.  AVhcre  was  this  nest  found?  How  high  from  the 
ground  ? 

2.  Was  it  under  shelter?     How  was  it  supported? 

3.  Of  what  material  is  the  outside  of  the  nest?  How  is  it  fastened 
together?     How  do  you  suppose  the  bird  wove  this  material  together? 

4.  Of  what  material  is  the  lining?  Why  is  the  bird  that  built  this 
nest  called  the  "hair  bird?"  From  what  animal  do  3'ou  think  the  lining 
of  the  nest  came?     How  do  you  suppose  the  bird  got  it? 

5 .  Do  you  think  the  nest  was  well  hidden  when  the  leaves  were  about 
it?  Measure  the  nest  across  and  also  its  depth;  do  you  think  the  l)ird 
that  made  it  is  as  large  as  the  English  sparrow? 

The  Bird 

6.  How  can  vou  tell  the  chippy  from  the  English  sparrow? 

7.  Describe  m  3'our  note-book  or  orally  the  colors  of  the  chippy  as 
follows:     beak,   forehead,   crown,  marks  above  and  through  the  eyes. 

90  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

cheeks,  throat,  breast,  wings  and  tail.     Note  if  the  wings  have  whitish 
bars  and  how  many. 

8.  Describe  the  shape  of  the  beak  as  compared  with  that  of  the  robin. 
What  is  this  shaped  bill  meant  for? 

9.  What  is  the  food  of  the  chippy?  Why  has  it  been  called  the 
doorstep-sparrow  ? 

10.  Note  if  the  chippy  catches  flies  or  moths  on  the  wing  like  the 

11.  Why  should  we  protect  the  chippy  and  try  to  induce  it  to  live 
near  our  gardens  ? 

12.  Does  it  run  or  hop  when  seeking  food  on  the  ground? 

13.  How  early  in  the  season  does  the  chippy  appear  and  where  does  it 
spend  the  winter? 

14.  Can  you  describe  the  chippy's  song?  How  do  you  think  it  won 
the  name  of  chipping  sparrow? 

15.  If  you  have  the  luck  to  find  a  pair  of  chippies  nesting,  keep  a 
diary  of  your  observations  in  your  note-book  covering  the  following 
points:  Do  both  parents  build  the  nest?  How  is  the  frame-work  laid? 
How  is  the  finishing  done  ?  The  number  and  color  of  the  eggs  ?  Do  both 
parents  feed  the  yovmg?  How  do  young  chippies  act  when  they  first 
leave  the  nest?  How  large  are  the  young  birds  before  the  parents  stop 
feeding  them  ?  What  are  the  differences  in  color  and  markings  between 
parents  and  young? 


A  bubble  of  music  floats,  the  slope  of  the  hillside  over; 

A  little  wandering,  sparrow' s  notes;  and  the  bloom  of  yarrow  and  clover. 

And  the  smell  of  sweet-fern  and  the  bayberry  leaf,  on  his  ripple  of  song  are  stealing, 

For  he  is  a  cheerfid  thief,  the  ivealth  of  the  fields  revealing. 

One  syllable,  clear  and  soft  as  a  raindrop's  silvery  patter, 
Or  a  tinkling  fairy-bell;  heard  aloft,  in  the  midst  of  the  merry  chatter 
Of  robin  and  linnet  and  wren  and  jay,  one  syllable,  oft  repeated; 
He  has  but  a  ivord  to  say,  and  of  that  he  ivill  not  be  cheated. 

The  singer  I  have  not  seen;   but  the  song  I  arise  and  follow 

The  brown  hills  over,  the  pastures  green,  and  into  the  sunlit  hollow. 

With  a  joy  that  his  life  unto  mine  has  lent,  I  can  feel  my  glad  eyes  glisten, 

Though  he  hides  in  his  happy  tent,  ivhile  I  stand  outside,  and  listen. 

This  way  would  I  also  sing,  my  dear  little  hillside  neighbor! 

A  tender  carol  of  peace  to  bring  to  the  sunburnt  fields  of  labor 

Is  better  than  making  a  loud  ado;  trill  on,  amid  clover  and  yarrow! 

There's  a  heart-beat  echoing  you,  and  blessing  you,  blithe  little  sparrow! 

— Lucy  Larcom 

Bird  Study 



Teachers'  Story 

"He  does  not  wear  a  Joseph's  coat  of  many  colors,  smart  and  gay 
His  suit  is  Quaker  brown  and  gray,  with  darker  patches  at  his  throat. 
And  yet  of  all  the  well-dressed  throng,  not  one  can  sing  so  brave  a  song. 
It  makes  the  pride  of  looks  appear,  a  vain  and  foolish  thing  to  hear 
His  "Siveet,  sweet,  sweet,  very  merry  cheer.'' 

A  lofty  place  he  does  not  love,  he  sits  by  choice  and  well  at  ease 

In  hedges  and  in  little  trees,  that  stretch  their  slender  arms  above 

The  meadow  brook;  and  then  he  sings  till  all  the  field  with  pleasure  rings; 

And  so  he  tells  in  every  ear,  that  lowly  homes  to  heaven  are  near 

In    'Siveet,  sweet,  sweet,  very  merry  cheer.'  " 

— Hexry  Va.v  Dyke. 

Children  should  commit  to  memory  the  poem  from  which  the  above 
stanzas  were  taken;  seldom  in  literature,  have  detailed  accurate  observa- 
tion and  poetry  been  so  happily  combined  as  in  these  verses.  The  lesson 
might  begin  in  March  when  we  are  all  hstening  eagerly  for  bird  voices, 
and  the  children  should  be  asked  to  look  out  for  a  Httle,  brown  bird  which 
sings,  "Sweet,  sweet,  sweet,  very  merr}^ cheer,"  or,  as  Thoreau  interprets 
it,  "Maids!  Maids!  Maids!  Hang  on  the  teakettle,  teakettle-ettle- 
et'tle."  In  earlv  childhood  I  learned  to  distinguish  this  sparrow  by  its 
"Teakettle"  song.  Besides  this  song,  it  has  others  quite  as  sweet;  and 
when  alarmed  it  utters  a  sharp  "T'chink,  t'chink." 

The  song  sparrow  prefers  the  neighborhood  of  brooks  and  ponds  which 
are  bordered  with  bushes,  and  also  the  hedges  planted  by  nature  along 
rail  or  other  field  fenc-es,  and  it  has  a  special  liking  for  the  shrubbery  about 
gardens.  Its  movements  and  flight  are  very  characteristic;  it  usually 
sits  on  the  tip-top  of  a  shrub  or  low  tree  when  it  sings,  but  when  disturbed 

92  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

never  rises  in  the  air  but  drops  into  a  low  flight  and  plunges  into  a  thicket 
with  a  defiant  twitch  of  the  tail  which  says  plainly,  "find  me  if  you  can." 

The  color  and  markings  of  this  bird  are  typical  of  the  sparrows.  The 
head  is  a  warm  brown  with  a  gray  streak  along  the  center  of  the  crown 
and  one  above  each  eye,  with  a  dark  line  through  the  eye.  The  back  is 
brown  with  darker  streaks.  The  throat  is  white  with  a  dark  spot  on 
either  side;  the  breast  is  white  spotted  with  brown  with  a  large,  dark 
blotch  at  its  very  center;  this  breast  blotch  distinguishes  this  bird  from 
all  other  sparrows.  The  tail  and  wings  are  brown  and  without  buff  or 
white  bars  or  other  markings.  The  tail  is  long,  rounded  and  very  expres- 
sive of  emotions,  and  makes  the  bird  look  more  slender  than  the  English 

The  nest  is  usually  placed  on  the  ground  or  in  low  bushes  not  more 
than  five  feet  from  the  ground;  it  varies  much  in  both  size  and  material; 
it  is  sometimes  constructed  of  coarse  weeds  and  grasses ;  and  sometimes 
only  fine  grass  is  used.  Sometimes  it  is  lined  with  hair,  and  again, with 
fine  grass;  sometimes  it  is  deep,  but  occasionally  is  shallow.  The  eggs 
have  a  whitish  ground-color  tinged  with  blue  or  green,  but  are  so  blotched 
and  marked  with  brown  that  they  are  safe  from  observation  of  enemies. 
The  nesting  season  begins  in  May,  and  there  are  usually  three  and  some- 
times four  broods;  but  so  far  as  I  have  observed,  a  nest  is  never  used  for 
two  consecutive  broods.  The  song  sparrow  stays  with  us  in  NewYork 
State  very  late  in  the  fall,  and  a  few  stay  in  sheltered  places  all  winter. 
The  quality  in  this  bird  which  endears  him  to  us  all  is  the  spirit  of  song 
which  stays  with  him ;  his  sweet  trill  may  be  heard  almost  any  month  of 
the  year,  and  he  has  a  charming  habit  of  singing  in  his  dreams,  if  sudden 
noise  disturbs  his  slumber. 

The  song  sparrow  is  not  only  the  dearest  of  little  neighbors,  but  it  also 
works  lustily  for  our  good  and  for  its  own  food  at  the  same  time.  It 
destroys  cutworms,  plant-Hce,  caterpillars,  canker-worms,  ground  beetles, 
grasshoppers  and  flies;  in  winter  it  destroys  thousands  of  weed  seeds, 
which  otherwise  would  surely  plant  themselves  to  o^ir  undoing.  Every 
boy  and  girl  should  take  great  pains  to  drive  away  stray  cats  and  to  teach 
the  family  puss  not  to  meddle  with  birds ;  for  cats  are  the  worst  of  all  the 
song  sparrow's  enemies,  destroying  thousands  of  its  nestlings  every  year. 

The  Song  Sp.\rrow 

Leading  thought — The  beautiful  song  of  this  sparrow  is  heard  earlier  in 
the  spring  than  the  notes  of  bluebird  or  robin.  The  dark  blotch  in  the 
center  of  its  speckled  breast  distinguishes  this  sparrow  from  all  others; 
it  is  very  beneficial  and  should  be  protected  from  cats. 

Methods — All  the  observations  of  the  song  sparrow  must  be  made  in 
the  field,  and  they  are  easily  made  because  the  bird  builds  near  houses,  in 
gardens,  and  in  the  shrubbery.  Poetry  and  other  literature  about  the 
song  sparrow  should  be  given  to  the  pupils  to  read  or  to  memorize. 

Observations — i .  Have  you  noticed  a  little  brown  bird  singing  a  very 
sweet  song  in  the  early  spring?  Did  the  song  sound  as  if  set  to  the  words 
"Little  Maid!  Little  Maid!  Little  Maid!  Put  on  the  teakettle,  tea- 
kettle-ettle  ettle?" 

Bird  Study  93 

2.  Where  was  this  bird  when  you  heard  him  sin.cjing?  How  hi^^h  was 
he  perched  above  the  ground?     What  other  notes  did  you  hear  him  utter? 

3.  Describe  the  colors  and  markings  of  the  song  sparrow  on  head, 
back,  throat,  breast,  wings  and  taih  Is  this  bird  as  large  as  the  English 
sparrow?     What  makes  it  look  more  slim? 

4.  How  can  you  distinguish  the  song  sparrow  from  the  other  spar- 
rows? When  disturbed  does  it  fly  up  or  down?  How  does  it  gesture 
with  its  tail  as  it  disappears  in  the  bushes? 

5.  Where  and  of  what  material  does  the  song  sparrow  build  its  nest? 

6.  What  colors  and  markings  are  on  the  eggs?  Do  you  think  these 
colors  and  markings  are  useful  in  concealing  the  eggs  when  the  mother 
bird  leaves  the  nest? 

7 .  How  late  in  the  season  do  you  see  the  song  sparrows  and  hear  their 
songs?     Does  this  bird,  when  disturbed,  fly  up  or  down? 

8.  How  can  we  protect  these  charming  little  birds  and  induce  them  to 
build  near  our  houses? 

9.  What  is  the  food  of  the  song  sparrows  and  how  do  they  benefit  our 
fields  and  gardens? 

Supplementary  reading— Onr  Birds  and  Their  Nestlings,  Walker,  pp. 
43,  49,  50,  52;  Second  Book  of  Birds,  Miller,  p.  80;  Birds  of  Song  and 
Story,' Cxrinnell,  p.  73;  The  Song  Sparrow,  Van  Dyke;  Birds  Through 
an  Opera  Glass,  Merriam,  p.  66;  Field  Book  of  Wild  Birds,  Mathews,  p. 
109;   Wild  Life,  Ingersoll,  p.  144;   Audubon  Leaflet  No.  31. 


Have  you  ever  heard  of  the  Sing-away  bird, 

That  sings  where  the  Runaway  River 
Runs  down  with  its  rills  from  the  bald-headed  hills 

That  stand  in  the  sunshine  and  shiver? 
"Oh,  sing!     sing-away!     sing-away!" 
How  the  pines  and  the  birches  are  stirred 
By  the  trill  of  the  Sing-away  bird! 

And  the  bald-headed  hills,  with  their  rocks  and  their  rills. 

To  the  tune  of  his  rapture  are  ringing; 
And  their  faces  grow  young,  all  the  gray  mists  among, 

While  the  forests  break  forth  into  singing. 
"Oh  sing!     sing-away!     sing-aivay!" 
And  the  river  runs  singing  along; 
And  the  flying  winds  catch  up  the  song. 

'T  was  a  white-throated  sparrow,  that  sped  a  light  arrow 

Of  song  from  his  musical  quiver, 
And  it  pierced  with  its  spell  every  valley  and  dell 

On  the  banks  of  the  Runaway  River. 
"Oh,  sing!     sing-away!     sing-away!" 
The  song  of  the  wild  singer  laid 
The  sound  of  a  soul  thai  is  glad. — Lucy    Larcom. 


Hajidbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  jnockingbird . 
Drawing  by  L.  A.  Fuertes. 


Teacher's  Story 

Among  all  the  vocalists  in  the  bird  world,  the  mockingbird  is  unrivaled 
in  the  variety  and  richness  of  his  repertoire;  and  he  has  thus  won  his 
place  an\ong  men,  convincing  many  ignorant  people  by  the  means  of  his 
voice  that  a  bird  is  good  for  scmiething  besides  "victuals."  The  mocking- 
birds go  as  far  north  as  southern  New  England,  but  they  are  found  at  their 
best  in  the  Southern  States  and  in  California.  On  the  Gulf  Coast  the 
mockers  begin  singing  in  February ;  in  warmer  climates  they  sing  almost 
the  year  through.  During  the  nesting  season,  the  father  mocker  is  so 
busy  with  his  cares  and  duties  during  the  day,  that  he  does  not  have  time 
to  sing  and  so  devotes  the  nights  to  serenading;  he  may  sing  almost  all 
night  long  if  there  is  moonlight,  but  even  on  dark  nights  he  gives  now 
and  then  a  happy,  sleepy  song.  Not  all  mockingbirds  are  mockers; 
some  sing  their  own  song  which  is  rich  and  beautiful;  while  others  learn 
in  addition,  not  only  the  songs  of  other  birds,  but  their  call  notes  as  well. 
One  authority  noted  a  mocker  which  imitated  the  songs  of  twenty 
species  of  birds  during  a  ten-minute  performance.  When  singing,  the 
mocker  shows  his  relationship  to  the  brown  thrasher  by  lifting  the  head 

Bird  Study  95 

and  depressing  and  jerking  the  tail.  A  good  mocker  will  learn  a  tune,  or 
parts  of  it,  if  it  is  whistled  often  enough  in  his  hearing;  he  will  also 
imitate  other  sounds  and  will  often  improve  on  a  song  he  has  learned  from 
another  bird  by  introducing  frills  of  his  own ;  when  learning  a  song,  he 
sits  silent  and  listens  intently,  but  will  not  try  to  sing  it  until  it  is  learned. 
Although  the  mockingbirds  live  in  wild  places,  they  prefer  the  haunts 
of  men,  taking  up  their  home  sites  in  gardens  and  cultivated  grounds. 
Their  flight  is  rarely  higher  than  the  tree  tops  and  is  decidedly  jerky  in 
character  with  much  twitching  of  the  long  tail.  For  nesting  sites,  they 
choose  thickets  or  the  lower  branches  of  trees,  being  especially  fond  of 
orange  trees ;  the  nest  is  usually  from  four  to  twenty  feet  from  the  ground. 
The  foundation  of  the  nest  is  made  of  sticks,  grasses  and  weed  stalks 
interlaced  and  crisscrossed;  on  these  is  built  the  nest  of  softer  materials, 
such  as,  rootlets,  horsehair,  cotton,  or  in  fact,  anything  suitable  which  is 
at  hand.  The  nest  is  often  in  plain  sight,  since  the  mocker  trusts  to  his 
strength  as  a  fighter  to  protect  it.  He  will  attack  cats  with  great  ferocity 
and  vanquish  them;  he  will  kill  snakes;  often  good-sized  black  snakes 
have  been  known  to  end  thus.  The  mocker,  in  making  his  attack,  hovers 
above  his  enemy  and  strikes  it  at  the  back  of  the  head  or  neck;  he  will 
also  drive  away  birds  much  larger  than  himself. 

The  female  lays  from  four  to  six  pale  greenish  or  bluish  eggs 
blotched  with  brown  and  which  hatch  in  about  two  weeks;  ^  then 
comes  a  period  of  hard  work  for  the  parents,  as  both  are  indefatigable 
in  catching  insects  to  feed  the  young.  The  mocker,  by  the  way,  is  a 
funny  sight  when  he  is  chasing  a  beetle  on  the  ground,  lifting  his  wings 
in  a'  pugnacious  fashion.  The  mockers  often  raise  three  broods  a 
season';  the  young  birds  have  spotted  breasts,  showing  their  relationship 
to  the  thrasher. 

As  a  wooer,  the  mocker  is  a  bird  of  much  ceremony  and  dances  into  his 
lady's  graces.  Mrs.  F.  W.  Rowe,  in  describing  this,  says  that  the  birds 
stand  facing  each  other  with  heads  and  tails  erect  and  wings  drooping; 
"then  the  dance  would  begin,  and  this  consisted  of  the  two  hopping 
sideways  in  the  same  direction  and  in  rather  a  straight  line  a  few  inches  at 
a  time,  always  keeping  directly  opposite  each  other  and  about  the  same 
distance  apart.  They  would  chassez  this  way  four  or  five  feet,  then  go 
back  over  the  same  line  in  the  same  manner."  Mrs.  Rowe  also  observed 
that  the  male  mockers  have  hunting  preserves  of  their  own,  not  allowing 
any  other  males  of  their  species  in  these  precincts.  The  boundary  was 
sustained  by  tactics  of  both  offense  and  defense;  but  certain  other  species 
of  birds  were  allowed  to  trespass  without  reproof. 

Maurice  Thompson  describes  in  a  delightful  manner  the  "mountmg" 
and  "dropping' '  songs  of  the  mocker  which  occur  during  the  wooing  season . 
The  singer  flits  up  from  branch  to  branch  of  a  tree,  singing  as  he  goes,  and 
finalK  on  the  topmost  bough  gives  his  song  of  triumph  to  the  world;  then, 
reversing  the  process,  he  falls  backward  from  spray  to  spray,  as^if  drunk 
with  the  ecstasy  of  his  own  song,  which  is  an  exquisitely  soft  "gurghng 
series  of  notes,  liquid  and  sweet,  that  seem  to  express  utter  rapture." 
The  mockingbirds  have  the  same  colors  in  both  sexes;  the  head  is 
black,  the  back  is  ashy-gray ;  the  tail  and  wvngs  are  so  dark  brown  that 
they  look  black;  the  tail  is  very  long  and  has  the  outer  tail  feathers 
entirely  white  and  the  tv\^o  next  inner  ones  are  white  for  more  than  half 
their  length;  the  wings  have  a  strikingly  broad,  white  bar.  which  is  ver>' 

96  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

noticeable  when  the  bird  is  flying.  The  under  parts  and  breast  are 
grayish  white;  the  beak  and  legs  are  blackish.  The  food  of  the  mocking- 
birds is  about  half  insects  and  half  fruit.  They  live  largely  on  the  berries 
of  the  red  cedar,  myrtle  and  holly,  and  we  must  confess  are  often  too 
devoted  to  the  fruits  in  our  orchards  and  gardens;  but  let  us  put  down  to 
their  credit  that  they  do  their  best  to  exterminate  the  cotton  boll  cater- 
pillars and  moths,  and  also  many  other  insects  injurious  to  crops. 

The  mocker  is  full  of  tricks  and  is  distinctly  a  bird  of  humor.  He  will 
frighten  other  birds  by  screaming  like  a  hawk  and  then  seem  to  chuckle 
over  the  joke. 

Sidney  Lanier  describes  him  well. 

Whatever  birds  did  or  dreamed,  this  bird  could  say. 
Then  down  he  shot,  bounced  airily  along 
The  sward,  twitched  in  a  grassJiopper,  made  song 
Midjlight,  perched,  prinked,  and  to  his  art  again. 

The  Mockixg    Bird 

Leading  thought — The  mockingbird  is  the  only  one  of  our  common 
birds  that  sings  regularly  at  night.  It  imitates  the  songs  of  other  I'irds 
and  has  also  a  beautiful  song  of  its  own.  When  feeding  their  nestlings, 
the  mockers  do  us  great  service  by  destroying  insect  pests. 

Method — Studies  of  this  bird  are  best  made  individually  by  the  pupils 
through  watching  the  mockers  which  haunt  the  houses  and  shrubbery. 
If  there  are  mockingbirds  near  the  schoolhouse  the  work  can  be  done  in 
the  most  ideal  way  by  keeping  records  in  the  school  of  all  the  observations 
made  by  the  pupils,  thus  bringing  out  an  interesting  mockingbird  story. 
The  experiment  in  teaching  songs  to  the  birds  may  best  be  made  with  pet 

Observations — i.  At  what  months  of  the  year  and  for  how  many 
months  does  the  mxockingbird  sing  in  this  locality? 

2.  Does  he  sing  only  on  moonlight  nights?     Does  he  sing  all  night? 

3.  Can  you  distinguish  the  true  mockingbird  song  from  the  songs 
which  he  has  learned  from  other  birds  ?  Describe  the  actions  of  a  mocker 
when  he  is  singing. 

4.  How  many  songs  of  other  birds  have  you  heard  a  mocker  give  and 
what  are  the  names  of  these  birds? 

5.  Have  you  ever  taught  a  mocker  a  tune  by  whistling  it  in  his 
presence?  If  so,  tell  how  long  before  he  learned  it  and  how  he  acted 
while  learning. 

Describe  the  flight  of  the  mockingbirds.  Do  they  fly  high  in  the  air 
like  crows? 

7.  Do  these  birds  like  best  to  live  in  wild  places  or  about  houses  and 

8.  Where  do  they  choose  sites  for  their  nests?  Do  they  make  an 
effort  to  hide  the  nest?     If  not,  why? 

9.  Of  what  material  is  the  nest  made?  How  is  it  lined?  How  far 
from  the  ground  is  it  placed? 

10.  What  are  the  colors  of  the  eggs?  How  many  are  usually  laid? 
How  long  before  they  hatch? 

Bird  Study  97 

11.  Give  instances  of  the  parents'  devotion  to  the  young  birds. 

12.  Have  you  seen  two  mockingbirds  dancing  before  each  other  just 
before  the  nesting  season? 

13.  In  the  spring  have  you  heard  a  mocker  sing  while  mounting  from 
the  lower  to  the  upper  branches  of  a  tree  and  then  after  pouring  forth  his 
best  song  fall  backward  with  a  sweet,  gurgling  song  as  if  intoxicated  with 
his  music? 

14.  How  many  broods  does  a  pair  of  mockers  raise  during  one  season  ? 
How  does  the  color  of  the  breast  of  the  young  difEer  from  that  of  the 
parent  ? 

15.  How  does  the  father  bird  protect  the  nestlings  from  other  birds, 
cats  and  snakes? 

16.  Does  the  mocker  select  certain  places  for  his  own  hunting  grounds 
and  drive  off  other  mockers  which  trespass? 

17.  Describe  the  colors  of  the  mockingbird  as  follows:  Beak,  head, 
back,  tail,  wings,  throat,  breast,  under  parts  and  feet. 

18.  What  is  the  natural  food  of  the  mockingbirds  and  how  do  they 
benefit  the  farmer?  How  does  the  mocker  act  when  attacking  a  ground 

19.  Have  you  seen  mockingbirds  frighten  other  birds  by  imitating 
the  cry  of  a  hawk?     Have  you  seen  them  play  other  kinds  of  tricks? 

20.  Write  a  little  story  which  shall  include  your  own  observations  on 
the  ways  of  pet  mockingbirds  which  3^ou  have  known. 

Supplementary  reading — True  Bird  Stories,  Miller,  p.  142;  Bob,  by 
Sidney  Lanier;  Second  Book  of  Birds,  Miller,  p.  34;  Birds  of  Song  and 
Story,  Grinnell,  p.  29;  Stories  About  Birds,  Kirby,  p.  94. 

"Soft  and  low  the  song  began:     I  scarcely  caught  it  as  it  ran 
Through  the  melancholy  trill  of  the  plaintive  tvhip- poor -will. 
Through  the  ringdove's  gentle  ivail,  chattering  jay  and  ivhisiling  quail, 
Sparrow's  twitter,  catbird's  cry,  redbird's  ivhistlc,  robin's  sigh; 
Blackbird,  bluebird,  swalloiv,  lark,  each  his  native  note  might  mark. 

Oft  he  tried  the  lesson  o'er,  each  time  louder  than  before; 
Burst  at  length  the  finished  song,  loud  and  clear  it  poured  along; 
All  the  choir  in  silence  heard,  hushed  before  this  wondrous  bird. 
All  transported  and  amazed,  scarcely  breathing,  long  I  gazed. 
Now  it  reached  the  loudest  swell;  lower,  lower,  noiv  it  fell, — 
Lower,  lower,   lower  still,  scarce  it  sounded  o'er  the  rill." 

— Joseph  Rodman  Drakb. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Catbird  on  nest. 
Photo  by  Robert  Matheson. 


Teacher's  Story 

"TJic  Catbird  sings  a  crooked  song,  in  minors  that  are  flat. 
And,  ivhen  he  can't  control  his  voice  he  mews  just  like  a  cat. 
Then  nods  his  head  ajid  luh.isks  his  tail  and  lets  it  go  at  that.'' 

— Oliver  Davie. 

As  a  performer,  the  catbird  distinctly  belongs  to  the  vaudeville,  even 
going  so  far  as  to  appear  in  slate-colored  tights.  His  specialties  range 
from  the  most  exquisite  song  to  the  most  strident  of  scolding  notes;  his 
nasal  "n-y-a-a-h,  n-y-a-a-h"  is  not  so  very  much  like  the  cat's  mew  after 
all,  but  when  addressed  to  the  intruder  it  means  "get  out;"  and  not  in  the 
whole  gamut  of  bird  notes  is  there  another  which  so  quickly  inspires  the 
listener  with  this  desire.  I  once  trespassed  upon  the  territory  of  a  well- 
grown  catbird  family  and  the  squalling  that  ensued  was  ear-splitting;  as 
I  retreated,  the  triumphant  youngsters  followed  me  for  a  few  rods  with 
every  sign  of  triumph  in  their  actions  and  voices;  they  obviously  enjoyed 
my  apparent  fright.  The  catbirds  have  rather  a  pleasant  "cluck,  cluck" 
when  talking  to  each  other,  hidden  in  the  bushes,  and  they  also  have  a 
variety  of  other  notes.  The  true  song  of  the  catbird,  usually  given  in  the 
early  morning,  is  very  beautiful.  Mr.  Mathews  thinks  it  is  a  medley 
gathered  from  other  birds,  but  it  seems  to  me  very  inrlividual.  However, 
true  to  his  vaudeville  training,  this  bird  is  likely  to  introduce  into  the 
middle  or  at  the  end  of  his  exquisite  song  some  phrase  that  suggests  his 
cat  call.  He  is,  without  doubt,  a  true  mocker  and  will  often  imitate 
the  robin's  song,  and  also  if  opportunity  offers  learns  to  converse  fluently 
in  chicken  language.     One  spring  morning,  I  heard  outside  my  window 

Bird  Study  99 

the  mellow  song  of  the  cardinal,  which  is  a  rare  visitor  in  New  York,  but 
there  was  no  mistaking  the  "tor-re-do,  tor-re-do."  I  sprang  from  my  bed 
and  rushed  to  the  window  only  to  see  a  catbird  singing  the  cardinal  song, 
and  thus  telling  me  that  he  had  come  from  the  sunny  South  and  the 
happy  companionship  of  these  brilliant  birds.  Often  when  the  catbird  is 
singing,  he  sits  on  the  topmost  spray  of  some  shrub  lifting  his  head  and 
depressing  his  tail,  like  a  brown  thrasher;  and  again,  he  sings  completely 
hidden  in  the  thicket. 

In  appearance  the  catbird  is  tailor-made,  belonging  to  the  same  social 
class  as  the  cedar-bird  and  the  barn  swallow.  However,  it  affects  quiet 
colors,  and  its  well-fitting  costume  is  all  slate-gray  except  the  top  of  the 
head  and  the  tail  which  are  black;  the  feathers  beneath  the  base  of  the 
tail  are  brownish.  The  catbird  is  not  so  large  as  the  robin,  and  is  of  very 
different  shape;  it  is  far  more  slender  and  has  a  long,  emotional  tail. 
The  way  the  catbird  twitches  and  tilts  its  tail,  as  it  hops  along  the  ground 
or  alights  in  a  bush,  is  very  characteristic.  It  is  a  particularly  aleii:  and 
nervous  bird,  always  on  the  watch  for  intruders,  and  the  first  to  give 
warning  to  all  other  birds  of  their  approach.  It  is  a  good  fighter  in 
defending  its  nest,  and  there  are  several  observed  instances  where  it  has 
fought  to  defend  the  nest  of  other  species  of  birds;  and  it  has  gone  even 
further  in  its  philanthropy,  by  feeding  their  orphaned  nestlings. 

The  catbird  chooses  a  nesting  site  in  a  low  tree  or  shrub  or  brier,  where 
the  nest  is  built  usually  about  four  feet  from  the  ground.  The  nest  looks 
untidy,  but  is  strongly  made  of  sticks,  coarse  grass,  weeds,  bark  strips 
and  occasionally  paper;  it  is  lined  with  soft  roots  and  is  almost  always 
well  hidden  in  dense  foliage.  The  eggs  are  from  three  to  five  in  number 
and  are  dark  greenish  blue.  Both  parents  work  hard  feeding  the  young 
and  for  this  "purpose  destroy  many  insects  which  we  can  well  spare. 
Sixty-two  per  cent,  of  the  food  of  the  young  has  been  found  in  one  instance 
to  be  cutworms,  showing  what  a  splendid  work  the  parents  do  in  our 
gardens.  In  fact,  during  a  large  part  of  the  summer,  while  these  birds 
are  rearing  their  two  broods,  they  benefit  us  greatly  by  destroying  the 
insect  pests;  and  although  later  they  may  attack  our  fruits  and  berries,  it 
almost  seems  as  if  they  had  earned  the  right  to  their  share.  If  we  only 
had  the  wisdom  to  plant  along  the  fences  some  elderberries  or  Russian 
mulberries,  the  catbirds  as  well  as  the  robins  would  feed  upon  them  instead 
of  the  cultivated  fruits. 

The  catbirds  afford  a  striking  example  for  impressing  upon  children 
that  each  species  of  birds  haunts  certain  kinds  of  places.  The  catbirds  are 
never  found  in  deep  woods  nor  in  open  fields,  but  always  near  low  thickets 
along  streams,  and  in  shrubbery  along  fences,  in  tangles  of  vines,  and 
especially  do  they  like  to  build  about  our  gardens,  if  we  protect  them. 
They  are  very  fond  of  bathing,  and  if  fresh  water  is  given  them  for  this 
purpose,  we  may  have  opportunity  to  witness  the  most  thorough  bath  a 
bird  can'take.  A  catbird  takes  a  long  time  to  bathe  and  preen  its  feathers 
and  indulges  in  most  luxurious  sun  baths  and  thus  deservedly  earns  the 
epithet  of  "well-groomed;"  it  is  one  of  the  most  intelligent  of  all  our  birds 
and  soon  learns  "what  is  what,"  and  repays  in  the  most  surprising  way 
the  trouble  of  careful  observation. 

loo  Haftdbook  of  N ature-Study 

The  Catbird 

Leading  thought — The  catbird  has  a  beautiful  song  as  well  as  the  harsh 
"miou,"  and  can  imitate  other  birds,  although  not  so  well  as  the  mocking- 
bird. It  builds  in  low  thickets  and  shrubbery  and  during  the  nesting 
season  is  of  great  benefit  to  our  gardens. 

Methods — First,  let  the  pupils  study  and  report  upon  the  songs, 
scoldings  and  other  notes  of  this  our  northern  mockingbird;  then  let 
them  describe  its  appearance  and  habits.  Of  course,  the  study  must  be 
made  outside  of  school  hours  in  the  field. 

Observations — i.  Do  you  think  the  squall  of  the  catbird  sounds  like 
the  mew  of  a  cat  ?  When  does  the  bird  use  this  note  and  what  for  ?  What 
other  notes  have  you  heard  it  utter? 

2.  Describe  as  well  as  you  can  the  catbird's  true  song.  Are  there  any 
harsh  notes  in  it?  Where  does  he  sit  while  singing?  Describe  his  actions 
while  singing. 

3 .  Have  you  ever  heard  the  catbird  imitate  the  songs  of  other  birds 
or  other  noises? 

4.  Describe  the  catbird  as  follows:  its  size  and  shape  compared  to 
the  robin;  the  color  and  shape  of  head,  beak,  wings,  tail,  breast  and 
under  parts. 

5.  Describe  its  peculiar  actions  and  its  characteristic  movements. 

6.  Where  do  catbirds  build  their  nests?  How  high  from  the  ground? 
What  material  is  used?  Is  the  nest  compact  and  carefully  finished? 
Is  it  hidden? 

7.  What  is  the  color  of  the  eggs?  Do  both  parents  care  for  the 

8.  What  is  the  food  of  the  catbird  ?  Why  is  it  an  advantage  to  us  to 
have  catbirds  build  in  our  gardens? 

9.  Do  you  ever  find  catbirds  in  the  deep  woods  or  out  in  the  open 
meadows  ?     Where  do  you  find  them  ? 

10.  Put  out  a  pan  of  water  where  the  catbirds  can  use  it  and  then 
watch  them  make  their  toilets  and  describe  the  process.  Describe  how 
they  take  sun  baths. 

Supplementary  reading — "Monsieur  Mischief,"  Nestlings  of  Forest  and 
Marsh,  Wheelock;  Our  Birds  and  Their  Nestlings,  Walker,  pp.  167,  174; 
Second  Book  of  Birds,  Miller,  p.  37;  Songs  of  Nature,  Burroughs,  p.  172: 
Birds  of  Song  and  Story.  Grinnell,  p.  36. 

"He  sits  on  a  bra  itch  of  you  blossoming  bush. 
This  madcap  cousin  of  robin  and  thrush, 
And  sings  without  ceasing  the  whole  morning  long; 
Now  wild,  now  tender,  the  wayward  song 
That  flows  from  his  soft,  gray,  fluttering  throat; 
But  often  he  stops  in  his  sweetest  note. 
And,  shaking  a  flower  from  the  blossoming  bough. 
Drawls  out,  "Mi-eu,  mi-mv'" 

— "The  Catbird",  EniTH   M    Thomas. 

Bird  Study 


Teacher's  Story 

HIS  patrol  of  our  streams  and  lake  shores,  in  his  cadet 
uniform,  is  indeed  a  military  figure  as  well  as  a  militant 
personality.  As  he  sits  upon  his  chosen  branch  over- 
hanging some  stream  or  lake  shore,  his  crest  abristle, 
his  keen  eye  fixed  on  the  water  below,  his  whole  bearing 
alert,  one  must  acknowledge  that  this  fellow  puts 
"ginger"  into  his  environment,  and  that  the  spirit 
which  animates  him  is  very  far  from  the  "dolce  far 
niente"  which  permeates  the  ordinary  fisherman.  However,  he  does  not 
fish  for  fun  but  for  business;  his  keen  eye  catches  the  gleam  of  a  moving 
fin  and  he  darts  from  his  perch,  holds  himself  for  a  moment  on  steady 
wings  above  the  surface  of  the  water,  to  be  sure  of  his  quarry,  and  then 
there  is  a  dash  and  a  splash  and  he  returns  to  his  perch  with  the  wriggling 
fish  in  his  strong  beak;  he  at  once  proceeds  to  beat  its  life  out  against  a 
branch  and  then  to  swallow  it  sensibly,  head  first,  so  that  the  fins  will  not 
prick  his  throat  nor  the  scales  rasp  it.  He  swallows  the  entire  fish,  trust- 
ing to  his  internal  organs  to  select  the  nourishing  part;  and  later  he  gulps 
up  a  ball  of  the  indigestible  scales  and  bones. 

The  kingfisher  is  very  different  in  form  from  an  ordinary  bird;  he  is 
larger  than  a  robin,  and  his  head  and  fore  parts  are  much  larger  in  propor- 
tion; this  is  the  more  noticeable  because  of  the  long 
feathers  of  the  head  which  he  lifts  into  a  crest,  and 
because  of  the  shortness  of  the  tail.  The  beak  is  very 
long  and  strong  in  order  to  seize  the  fish  and  hold  it 
fast;  but  the  legs  are  short  and  weak;  the  third  and 
fourth  toes  are  grown  together  for  a  part  of  their 
length;  perhaps  this  is  of  use  to  the  bird  in  pushing- 
earth  from  the  burrow,  when  excavating.  The  king- 
fisher has  no  need  for  running  and  hopping,  like  the 
robin  and,  therefore,  does  not  need  the  robin's  strong 
legs  and  feet .  His  colors  are  beautiful  and  harmonious ; 
the  upper  parts  are  grayish  blue,  the  throat  and  collar 
white,  as  is  also  the  breast,  which  has  a  bluish  gray 
band  across  the  upper  part,  this  giving  the  name  of 
the  Belted  Kingfisher  to  the  bird.  The  feathers  of  the  wings  are  tipped  with 
white  and  the  tail  feathers  narrowly  barred  with  white.  The  under  side 
of  the  body  is  white  in  the  males,  while  in  the  females  it  is  somewhat  chest- 
nut in  color.     There  is  a  striking  white  spot  just  in  front  of  the  eye. 

The  kingfisher  parents  build  their  nest  in  a  burrow  which  they  tunnel 
horizontally  in  a  bank;  sometimes  there  is  a  vestibule  of  several  feet 
before  the  nest  is  reached,  and  at  other  times  it  is  built  very  close  to  the 
opening.  Both  parents  are  industrious  in  catching  fish  for  their  nestlings, 
but  the  burden  of  this  duty  falls  heaviest  upon  the  male.  Many  fish 
bones  are  found  in  the  nest,  and  they  seem  so  clean  and  white  that  they 
have  been  regarded  as  nest  lining.  Wonderful  tales  are  told  of  the  way 
the  English  kingfishers  use  fish  bones  to  support  the  earth  above  their 
nests,  and  tributes  have  been  paid  to  their  architectural  skill.  But  it  is 
generally  conceded  that  the  lining  of  fish  bones  in  nests  of  our  kingfisher 
is  incidental,  since  the  food  of  the  young  is  largely  fish,   although  frogs, 

Kingfisher' s  foot. 

This  shows  the  weak 
toes;  the  thini  and 
fourth  are  joined 
together,  which  un- 
doubtedly assists 
the  bird  in  push- 
ing out  soil  when 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

insects  and  other  creatures  are  often  eaten  with  reHsh.  It  is  interesting 
to  note  the  process  by  which  the  young  kingfisher  gets  its  skill  in  fishing. 
I  have  often  seen  one  dive  horizontally  for  a  yard  or  two  beneath  the 
water  and  come  up  indignant  and  sputtering  because  the  fish  had  escaped. 
It  was  fully  two  weeks  after  this  before  this  one  learned  to  drop  like  a 
bullet  on  its  quarry. 

The  note  of  the  kingfisher  is  a  loud  rattle,  not  especially  pleasant  close 
at  hand,  but  not  unmusical  at  a  little  distance.  It  is  a  curious  coinci- 
dence that  it  sounds  very  much  like  the  clicking  of  the  fisherman's  reel; 
it  is  a  sound  that  conjures  visions  of  shade-dappled  streams  and  the  danc- 
ing, blue  waters  of  tree-fringed  lakes  and  ponds. 

There  seems  to  be  a  division  of  fishing  ground  among  the  kingfishers, 
one  bird  never  trespassing  upon  its  neighbor's  preserves.  Unless  it  be 
the  parent  pair  working  near  each  other  for  the  nestlings,  or  the  nestlings 
still  under  their  care,  we  never  see  two  kingfishers  in  the  same  immediate 

References — The  Bird,  p.  97;  The  Bird  Book,  pp.  154,  444. 

The  belted  kingfisher. 

Drawing  by  L.  A.  Fuertes. 


The  Kingfisher 

Leading  thought — The  kingfisher  is  fitted  by 
form  of  body  and  beak  to  be  a  fisherman. 

Methods — If  the  school  be  near  a  stream  or 
pond  the  following  observations  may  be  made 
by  the  pupils;  otherwise  let  the  boys  who  go 
fishing  make  a  study  of  the  bird  and  report  to 
the  school. 

Observations — i.  Where  have  you  seen 
the  kingfisher?  Have  you  often  seen  it  on  a 
certain  branch  which  is  its  favorite  perch  ?  Is 
this  perch  near  the  water?  What  is  the 
advantage  of  this  position  to  the  bird  ? 

2.  What  does  the  kingfisher  feed  upon? 
How  does  it  obtain  its  food?  Describe  the 
actions  of  one  of  these  birds  while  fishing. 

3.  With  w^iat  weapon  does  the  kingfisher  secure  the  fish?  How  long 
is  its  beak  compared  with  the  rest  of  its  body?  How  does  it  kill  the  fish? 
Does  it  swallow  the  fish  head  or  tail  first?  Why?  Does  it  tear  off  the 
scales  or  fins  before  swallowing  it?  How  does  it  get  rid  of  these  and  the 
bones  of  the  fish? 

4.  Which  is  the  larger,  the  kingfisher  or  the  robin?  Describe  the 
difference  in  shape  of  the  bodies  of  these  two  birds;  also  in  the  size  and 
shape  of  feet  and  beaks  and  explain  why  they  are  so  different  in  form. 
What  is  there  peculiar  about  the  kingfisher's  feet?  Do  you  know  which 
two  toes  are  grown  together? 

5.  What  are  the  colors  of  the  kingfisher  in  general?  The  colors  of 
head,  sides  of  head,  collar,  back,  tail,  wings,  throat,  breast  and  under 
parts  ?  Is  there  a  white  spot  near  the  eye  ?  If  so,  where  ?  Do  you  know 
the  difference  in  colors  between  the  parent  birds? 

6.  Where  is  the  nest  built?     How  is  it  lined? 

Bird  Study  103 

7.  What  is  the  note  of  the  kingfisher?  Does  it  give  it  while  perching 
or  while  on  the  wing?  Do  you  ever  find  more  than  one  kingfisher  on  the 
same  fishing  grounds? 

Supplementary  reading — The  Second  Book  of  Birds,  Chapter  XXX; 
"The  Halycon  Birds,"  Child's  Study  of  the  Classics;  Audubon  Leaflet 
No.  19;   "Kooskosemus,"  Long;  American  Birds,  Finley. 


For  the  handsome  Kingfisher,  go  not  to  the  tree. 
No  bird  of  the  field  or  the  forest  is  he; 
In  the  dry  river  rock  he  did  never  abide. 
And  not  on  the  brown  heath  all  barren  and  ivide. 

He  lives  where  the  fresh,  sparkling  ivaters  are  flowing, 
Where  the  tall  heavy  Typha  and  Loosestrife  are  growing; 
By  the  bright  little  streams  that  all  joyfully  run 
AwJiile  in  the  sJiadoiv,  and  then  i}i  the  sun. 

He  lives  in  a  hole  that  is  quite  to  his  mind. 
With  the  green  mossy  Hazel  roots  firmly  entwined; 
Where  the  dark  Alder-bough  waves  gracefully  o'er. 
And  the  Sword-flag  and  Arrow-head  grow  at  his  door. 

There  busily,  busily,  all  the  day  long, 
He  seeks  for  small  fishes  the  shallows  among; 
For  he  builds  his  nest  of  the  pearly  fish-bone. 
Deep,  deep,  in  the  bank,  far  retired,  and  alone. 

Then  the  brown  Water-Rat  from  his  burrotv  looks  out. 
To  see  what  his  neighbor  Kingfisher' s  about; 
And  the  green  Dragon-fly,  flitting  slowly  away. 
Just  pauses  one  mom-ent  to  bid  him  good-day. 

O  happy  Kingfisher!     What  care  shoidd  he  know. 
By  the  clear,  pleasant  streams,  as  he  skims  to  and  fro. 
Now  lost  in  the  shadow,  now  bright  in  the  sheen 
Of  the  hoi  summer  sun,  glancing  scarlet  and  green! 

— Marv  Howitt. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


Teacher's  Story 

"Disquiet  yourselves  not.     'Tis  nothing  but  a  little,  downy  owl.'" — Shelley. 

Of   all    the    fascinating 
sounds  to  be  heard  at  night 
in  the  woods,   the  screech 
owl's   song   is    surely    the 
most  so ;  its  fascination  does 
not  depend  on  music  but 
upon   the   chills   which    it 
sends    up    and    down    the 
spine  of  the  listener,  thus 
attacking  a  quite  different 
set  of  nerves  than  do  other 
bird  songs.    The  weird  wail, 
tremulous  and  long  drawn 
out,    although    so     blood- 
curdling, is  from  the  stand- 
point of  the  owlet  the  most 
beautiful    music    in    the 
world;    by  means  of  it   he 
calls  to  his  mate,  cheering 
her    with    the    assurance 
of    his     presence     in     the 
world ;  evidently  she  is  not 
a  nervous    creature.     The 
screech  owls  are  likely  to 
sing  at  night    during    any 
part  of  the  year;  nor  should 
Screech  owls.  we  infer  that  when  they  are 

From  Country  Life  in  America.  singing  they  are  not  hunt- 

ing, for  perchance  their  music  frightens  their  victims  into  fatal  activ- 
ity.' Although  the  note  is  so  unmistakable,  yet  there  is  great  varia- 
tion in  the  songs  of  individuals;  the  great  variety  of  quavers  in  the 
song  offering  ample  opportunity  for  the  expression  of  individuality. 
Moreover,  these  owls  often  give  themselves  over  to  _  tremulous 
whispering  and  they  emphasize  excitement  by  snapping  their  beaks  in 
an  alarming  manner. 

Any  bird  that  is  flying  about  and  singing  in  the  night  time  must  be  able 
to  see  where  it  is  going,  and  the  owls  have  special  adaptations  for  this. 
The  eyes  are  very  large  and  the  yellow  iris  opens  and  closes  about  the  pupil 
quite  similar  to  the  arrangement  in  the  cat's  eye,  except  that  the  pupil  in 
the  owl's  eye  is  round  when  contracted  instead  of  elongated ;  in  the  night 
this  pupil  is  expanded  until  it  covers  most  of  the  eye.  The  owl  does  not 
need  to  see  behind  and  at  the  sides,  since  it  does  not  belong  to  the  birds 
which  are  the  victims  of  other  birds  and  animals  of  prey.  The  owl  is  a 
bird  that  hunts  instead  of  being  hunted,  and  it  needs  only  to  focus  its  eyes 
on  the  creature  it  is  chasing.  Thus,  its  eyes  are  in  the  front  of  the  head 
like  our  own;  but  it  can  see  behind,  in  case  of  need,  for  the  head  turns 
upon  the  neck  as  if  it  were  fitted  on  a  ball-bearing  joint.     I  have  often 

Bird  Study  105 

amused  myself  by  walking  around  a  captive  screech  owl,  which  would 
follow  me  with  its  eyes  by  turning  the  head  until  it  almost  made  the 
circle,  then  the  head  would  twist  back  with  such  lightning  rapidity  that  I 
could  hardly  detect  the  movement;  it  seemed  almost  as  if  the  head  was 
on  a  pivot  and  could  be  moved  around  and  around  indefinitely.  Al- 
though the  owl,  like  the  cat,  has  eyes  fitted  for  night  hunting,  it  can  also 
see  fairly  well  during  the  daytime. 

A  beak  with  the  upper  mandible  ending  in  a  sharp  hook  signifies  that 
its  owner  lives  upon  other  animals  and  needs  to  rend  and  tear  flesh. 
The  owl's  beak  thus  formed  is  somewhat  buried  in  the  feathers  of  the  face, 
which  gives  it  a  striking  resemblance  to  a  Roman  nose.  This,  with  the 
great,  staring,  round  eyes,  bestows  upon  the  owl  an  appearance  of  great 
wisdom.  But  it  is  not  the  beak  which  the  owl  uses  for  a  weapon  of 
attack ;  its  strong  feet  and  sharp,  curved  claws  are  its  weapons  for  striking 
the  enemy  and  also  for  grappling  with  its  prey.  The  outer  toe  can  be 
moved  back  at  will,  so  that  in  grasping  its  prey  or  its  perch,  two  toes  may 
be  directed  forward  and  two  backward,  thus  giving  a  stronger  hold. 

The  ear  is  very  different  in  form  from  the  ear  of  other  birds;  instead 
of  being  a  mere  hole  opening  into  the  internal  ear,  it  consists  of  a  fold  of 
skin  forming  a  channel  which  extends  from  above  the  eye  around  to  the 
side  of  the  throat.  (See  The  Bird,  Beebe,  p.  217).  Thus  equipped, 
while  hunting  in  the  dark  the  owl  is  able  to  hear  any  least  rustle  of  mouse 
or  bird  and  to  know  in  which  direction  to  descend  upon  it.  There  has 
been  no  relation  established  between  the  ear  tufts  of  the  screech  owl  and 
its  ears,  so  far  as  I  know,  but  the  way  the  bird  lifts  the  tufts  when  it  is 
alert,  always  suggests  that  this  movement  in  some  way  opens  up  the  ear 

In  color  there  are  two  types  among  the  screech  owls,  one  reddish 
brown,  the  other  gray.  The  back  is  streaked  with  black,  the  breast  is 
marked  with  many  shaft-lines  of  black.  The  whole  effect  of  the  owl's 
plumage  makes  it  resemble  a  branch  of  a  tree  or  a  part  of  the  bark,  and 
thus  it  is  protected  from  prying  eyes,  during  the  daytime  when  it  is  sleep- 
ing. Its  plumage  is  very  fluffy  and  its  wing  feathers,  instead  of  being 
stiff  to  the  very  edge,  have  soft  fringes  which  cushion  the  stroke  upon  the 
air.  The  owl's  flight  is,  therefore,  absolutely  noiseless  and  the  bird  is  thus 
able  to  swoop  down  upon  its  prey  without  giving  warning  of  its  approach. 

The  screech  owls  are  partial  to  old  apple  orchards  for  nesting  sites. 
They  will  often  use  an  abandoned  nest  of  a  woodpecker;  the  eggs  are 
almost  as  round  as  marbles  and  as  white  as  chalk,  showing  very  clearly 
that  they  are  laid  within  a  dark  hole,  otherwise  their  color  would  attract 
the  eyes  of  enemies.  There  are  usually  four  eggs;  the  little  owlets 
climb  out  of  their  home  cave  by  the  end  of  May  and  are  the  funniest  little 
creatures  imaginable.  They  m.ake  interesting  but  decidedly  snappy  pets; 
they  can  be  fed  on  insects  and  raw  beef.  It  is  most  interesting  to  see  one 
wake  up  late  in  the  afternoon  after  its  daytime  sleep.  All  day  it  has  snt 
motionless  upon  its  perch  with  its  toes  completely  covered  with  its  fluffy 
feather  skirt.  Suddenly  its  eyes  open,  the  round  pupils  enlarging  or  con- 
tracting with  great  rapidity  as  if  adjusting  themselves  to  the  amount  of 
light.  When  the  owl  winks  it  is  like  a  mioon  in  eclipse,  so  large  are  the 
eyes,  and  so  entirely  are  they  obscured  by  the  lids  which  seem  like  circular 
curtains.  When  it  yawns,  it=:  wide  bill  absurdly  resembles  a  human  mouth, 
and  the  yawn  is  very  human  in  its  expression.  It  then  stretches  its  wings 
and  it  is  astonishing  how  long  this  wing  can  be  extended  below  the  feet. 

io6  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

It  then  begins  its  toilet.  It  dresses  its  feathers  with  its  short  beak, 
nibbhng  industriously  in  the  flufif;  it  scratches  its  under  parts  and  breast 
with  its  bill,  then  cleans  the  bill  with  its  toot,  meanwhile  moving  the  head 
up  and  down  as  if  in  an  attempt  to  see  better  its  surroundings. 

The  owls  are  loyal  lovers  and  are  said  to  remain  mated  through  life, 
the  twain  being  very  devoted  to  their  nests  and  nestlings.  Sometimes 
the  two  wise-looking  little  parents  sit  together  on  the  eggs,  a  most  happy 
way  to  pass  the  wearisome  incubation  period. 

The  screech  owls  winter  in  the  north  and  they  are  distinctly  fore- 
sighted  in  preparing  for  winter.  They  have  often  been  observed  catching 
mice,  during  the  late  fall,  and  placing  them  in  some  hollow  tree  for  cold 
storage,  whence  they  may  be  taken  in  time  of  need.  Their  food  consists 
to  som^e  extent  of  insects,  especially  night- Hying  moths  and  beetles,  also 
caterpillars  and  grasshoppers.  However,  the  larger  part  of  their  food  is 
mice;  sometimes  small  birds  are  caught  and  the  English  sparrow  is  a  fre- 
quent victim.  Chickens  are  rarely  taken,  except  when  small,  since  this 
owlet  is  not  as  long  as  a  robin.  It  swallows  its  quarry  as  whole  as  possi- 
ble, trusting  to  its  inner  organs  to  do  the  sifting  and  selecting.  Later  it 
throws  up  pellets  of  the  indigestible  bones,  hair,  etc.  By  the  study  of 
these  pellets,  found  under  owl  roosts,  the  scientists  have  been  able  to 
determine  the  natural  food  of  the  bird,  and  they  all  unite  in  assuring  us 
that  the  screech  owl  does  the  farmer  much  more  good  than  harm,  since  it 
feeds  so  largely  upon  creatures  which  destroy  his  crops. 


The  Sckeech  Owl 

Leading  thought — This  owl  is  especiall}-  adapted  to  get  its  prey  at  night. 
It  feeds  largely  on  field  mice,  grasshoppers,  caterpillars  and  other  in- 
jurious insects  and  is  therefore  the  friend  of  the  farmer. 

Method — This  lesson  should  begin  when  the  children  first  hear  the  cry 
of  this  owl;  and  an  owlet  in  captivity  is  a  fascinating  object  for  the 
children  to  observe.  However,  it  is  so  important  that  the  children  learn 
the  habits  of  this  owl  that  the  teacher  is  advised  to  hinge  the  lesson  on  any 
observation  whatever  made  by  the  pupils,  and  illustrate  it  with  pictures 
and  stories. 

Observations — i.  Have  you  ever  heard  the  screech  owl?  At  what 
time  of  the  day  or  night?  Why  was  this?  Why  does  the  owl  screech? 
How  did  you  feel  when  listening  to  the  owl's  song?  ^ 

2.  Describe  the  owl's  eyes.  Are  they  adapted  to  see  by  night? 
What  changes  take  place  in  them  to  enable  the  owl  to  see  by  daytime  also? 
In  what  way  are  the  owl's  eyes  similar  to  the  cat's?  Why  is  it  necessary 
for  an  owl  to  see  at  night?  Are  the  owl's  eyes  placed  so  that  they  can 
see  at  the  sides  like  other  birds.  How  does  it  see  an  object  at  the  sides  or 
behind  it? 

3.  Note  the  owl's  beak.  For  what  purpose  is  a  hooked  beak?  How 
does  the  owl  use  its  beak?     Why  do  we  think  that  the  owl  looks  v.dse? 

4.  Describe  the  feet  and  claws  of  the  screech  owl.  What  are  such 
sharp  hooked  claws  meant  for?  Does  an  owl  on  a  perch  always  have  three 
toes  directed  forward  and  one  backward  ? 

Bird  Study  107 

5.  Describe  the  colors  of  the  screech  owl.  Are  all  these  owls  of  the 
same  color?     How  do  these  colors  protect  the  bird  from  its  enemies? 

6.  How  is  the  owl's  plumage  adapted  to  silent  flight?  Why  is  silent 
flight  advantageous  to  this  bird? 

7.  How  does  the  owl's  ear  differ  from  the  ears  of  other  birds?  Of 
what  special  advantage  is  this?  As  tlie  owl  hunts  during  the  night,  what 
does  it  do  in  the  daytmie?     How  and  by  what  means  does  it  hide  itself? 

8.  Where  does  the  screech  owl  make  its  nest?  Do  you  know  any- 
thing about  the  devotion  of  the  parent  owls  to  each  other  and  to  their 
young?  How  many  eggs  are  laid?  What  is  their  color?  At  what  time 
of  vear  do  the  little  owls  appear? 

'9  Where  does  the  screech  owl  spend  the  winter?  What  do  the 
screech  owls  feed  upon  ?  Do  they  chew  their  food  ?  How  do  they  get  rid 
of  the  indigestible  portion  of  their  food?  How  does  this  habit  help  the 
scientists  to  know  the  food  of  the  owls? 

10.  How  does  the  screech  owl  work  in  jury  to  the  farmers?  How  does 
it  benefit  them?     Does  not  the  benefit  outweigh  the  injury? 

11.  How  many  other  kinds  of  owls  do  you  know?  What  do  you 
know  of  their  habits? 

Supplementary  reading- — Audubon  Educational  Leaflets,  Nos.  22,  12, 
14;  Second  Book  of  Birds,  Miller,  Chap.  32-3;  Familiar  Wild  Animals, 
Lottridge;  "The  Boy  and  Hushwing,"  Kindred  of  the  Wild;  "Koos,  Koos, 
Koos"  in  Wilderness  Ways;  Wings  and  Fins.  chap.  19;  Heart  of  Oak 
Books,  Vol.  4,  p.  51;  The  Aziola,  Shelley;  American  Birds,  Finley. 


We  are  two  dusky  owls,  and  ive  live  in  a  tree; 

Look  at  her, — look  at  me! 
Look  at  her, — she's  my  mate,  and  the  mother  of  three 

Pretty  owlets,  and  we 
Have  a  warm  cosy  nest,  just  as  snug  as  can  be. 

We  are  both  very  ivise;  for  our  heads,  as  you  see, 

(Look  at  her — look  at  me!) 
Are  as  large  as  the  heads  of  four  birds  ought  to  be; 

And  our  horns,  you'll  agree. 
Make  ^ls  look  wiser  still,  sitting  here  on  the  tree. 

And  we  care  not  how  gloomy  the  night-time  may  be; 

We  can  see, — we  can  see 
Through  the  forest  to  roam,  it  suits  her,  it  suits  me; 

And  we're  free, — we  are  free 
To  bring  back  what  we  find,  to  our  nest  in  the  tree. 

— Anonymous. 


Hmtdbook  of  Nature-Study 

Red-tailed  Jiaivk  on  nest. 
Photo  by  R.  W.  Hegner. 


Teacher's  Story 

"Above  the  tumult  of  the  canon  lifted,  the  gray  hawk  breathless  hung, 
Or  on  tJie  hill  a  u'inged  shadoiv  drifted  ■u.-here  furze  and  thornbtish  clung." 

— Bret  Harte. 

It  is  the  teacher's  duty  and  privilege  to  try  to  revolutionize  some 
popular  misconceptions  about  birds,  and  two  birds,  in  great  need  in  this 
respect,  are  the  so-called  hen  hawks.  They  are  most  unjustly  treated, 
largely  because  most  farmers  consider  that  a  "hawk  is  a  hawk,"  and  should 
always  be  shot  to  save  the  poultry,  although  there  is  as  much  difference 
in  the  habits  of  hawks  as  there  is  in  those  of  men.  The  so-called  hen 
hawks  are  the  red-shouldered  and  the  red-tailed  species,  the  latter  being 
somewhat  the  larger  and  rarer  of  the  two;  both  are  very  large  birds;  the 
red-shouldered  has  cinnamon  brown  epaulets,  the  tail  blackish,  crossed 
by  five  or  six  narrow  white  bars,  and  the  wing  feathers  are  also  barred. 
The  red-tailed  species  has  dark  brown  wings,  the  feathers  not  barred,  and 
is  distinguished  by  its  tail  which  is  brilliant  cinnamon  color  with  a  black 
bar  across  it  near  the  end;  it  is  silvery  white  beneath.  When  the  hawk 
is  soaring,  its  tail  shows  reddish  as  it  wheels  in  the  air.  Both  birds  are 
brown  above  and  whitish  below,  streaked  with  brown. 

The  flight  of  these  hawks  is  alike  and  is  very  beautiful ;  it  consists  of 
soaring  on  outstretched  wings  in  wide  circles  high  in  the  air,  and  is  the 
ideal  of  graceful  aerial  motion.  In  rising,  the  bird  faces  the  wind  and 
drops  a  little  in  the  circle  as  its  back  turns  to  the  leeward,  and  thus  it 
climbs  an  invisible  winding  stair  until  it  is  a  mere  speck  in  the  sky.  This 
wonderful  flight,  on  motionless  wings,  is  what  has  driven  to  despair  our 
inventors  of  airships  who  have  not  been  able  to  fathom  the  mystery  of  it 
from  a  practical  standpoint.    When  the  bird  wishes  to  drop,  it  lifts  and 

Bird  Sttidy 


holds  its  wings  above  its  back,  and  comes  down  like  a  lump  of  lead,  only 
to  catch  itself  whenever  it  chooses  to  begin  again  to  climb  the  invisible 
spiral.  And  all  this  is  done  without  fatigue,  for  these  birds  have  been 
observed  to  soar  thus  for  hours  together  without  coming  to  earth.  When 
thus  soaring  the  two  species  may  be  distinguished  from  each  other  by 
their  cries;  the  red-tailed  gives  a  high  sputtering  scream,  which  Chapman 
likens  to  the  sound  of  escaping  steam;  while  the  red-shouJdered  calls  in  a 
high  not  unmusical  note  "kee-you,  kee-you"  or  "tee-ur,  tee-ur." 

The  popular  fallacy  for  the  teacher  to  correct  about  these  birds,  is  that 
they  are  enemies  of  the  farmers.  Not  until  one  has  actually  been  seen  to 
catch  the  chickens  should  it  be  shot,  for  very  few  of  them  are  guilty  of  this 
sin.  Sixty-six  per  cent,  of  the  food  of  the  red-tailed  species  consists  of 
injurious  animals,  i.  e.,  mice  and  gophers,  etc.,  and  only  7  per  cent,  con- 
sists of  poultry;  the  victims  are  probably  old  or  disabled  fowls,  and  fall 
an  easy  prey;  this  bird  much  prefers  mice  and  reptiles  to  poultry.  The 
more  common  red-shouldered  hawk  feeds  generally  on  mice,  snakes, 
frogs,  fish  and  is  very  fond  of  grasshoppers.  Ninety  per  cent,  of  its  food 
consists  of  creatures  which  injure  our  crops  or  pastures  and  scarcely  i]4 
per  cent,  is  made  up  of  poultry  and  game.  These  facts  have  been  ascer- 
tained by  the  experts  in  the  department  of  Agriculture  at  Washington 
who  have  examined  the  stomachs  of  hundreds  of  these  hawks  taken  from 
different  locaHties.  Furthennore,  Dr.  Fisher  states  that  a  pair  of  the  red- 
shouldered  hawks  bred  for  successive  years  within  a  few  hundred  yards  of 
a  poultry  farm,  containing  800  young  chickens  and  400  ducks,  and  the 
owner  never  saw  them  attempt  to 
catch  a  fowl. 

However,  there  are  certain 
species  of  hawks  which  are  to  be 
feared;  these  are  the  Cooper's 
hawk  and  the  sharp-shinned 
hawk,  the  first  being  very  destruc- 
tive to  poultry  and  the  latter  kill- 
mg  many  wild  birds.  These  are 
both  somewhat  smaller  than  the 
species  we  are  studying.  They 
are  dark  gray  above  and  have  very 
long  tails,  and  when  flying,  they 
flap  their  wings  for  a  time  and 
then  glide  a  distance.  They  do 
not  soar  on  motionless  outspread 
pinions  by  the  hour. 

When  hawks  are  seen  soaring, 
they  are  likely  to  be  hunting  for 
mice  in  the  meadows  below  them ; 
their  eyes  are  remarkably  keen; 
they  can  see  a  moving  creature 
from  a  great  height,  and  can 
suddenly  drop  upon  it  Hke  a 
thunder  bolt  out  of  a  clear  sky. 
Their  wonderful  eyes  are  far- 
sighted  when  they  are  circling  in 
the   sky,   but  as  they   drop,   the 




■,V     ...jl 


^S^^^^rf^^^  ^' 



Br  4.              ,^ 


Hf-nnwl^n^^    -Ji^-^rf^Wfc.  t'^^^ai 

The  red-tailed  hawk. 

no  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

focus  of  the  eyes  changes  automatically  with  great  rapidity,  so  that 
by  the  time  they  reach  the  earth  they  are  near-sighted,  a  feat  quite  im- 
possible for  our  eyes  unless  aided  by  glasses  or  telescope. 

These  so-called  hen  hawks  will  often  sit  motionless,  for  hours  at  a 
time,  on  some  dead  branch  or  dead  tree;  they  are  probably  watching  for 
something  eatable  to  stir  within  the  range  of  their  keen  vision.  When 
seizing  its  prey,  a  hawk  uses  its  strong  feet  and  sharp,  curved 
talons.  All  hawks  keep  their  claws  sharp  and  poHshed,  even  as 
the  warrior  keeps  his  sword  bright,  so  as  to  be  ready  for  use; 
the  legs  are  covered  by  a  growth  of  feathers  extending  down  from  above, 
looking  like  feather  trousers.  The  beak  is  hooked  and  very  sharp  and  is 
used  for  tearing  apart  the  flesh  of  the  quarry.  When  a  hawk  fights  some 
larger  animal  or  man,  it  throws  itself  over  upon  its  back  and  strikes  its 
assailant  with  its  strong  claws  as  well  as  with  its  beak;  but  the  talons  are 
its  chief  weapons. 

Both  species  build  a  large,  shallow  nest  of  coarse  sticks  and  grass, 
lined  with  moss,  feathers,  etc. ;  it  is  a  rude,  rough  structure,  and  is  placed 
in  tall  trees  from  fifty  to  seventy-five  feet  from  the  ground.  Only  two  to 
four  eggs  are  laid;  these  are  whitish  spotted  with  brown.  These  hawks 
are  said  to  remain  mated  for  life  and  are  devoted  to  each  other  and  their 
young.  Hawks  and  eagles  are  very  similar  in  form  and  habits,  and  if  the 
eagle  is  a  noble  bird  so  is  the  hawk. 

The  Red-shouldered  axd  Red-tail£d  Hawks 

Leading  thought — Ignorant  people  consider  all  hawks  dangerous 
neighbors  because  they  are  supposed  to  feed  exclusively  on  poultry. 
This  idea  is  false  and  we  should  study  carefully  the  habits  of  hawks  before 
we  shoot  them.  The  ordinary  large  reddish  "hen-hawks,"  which  circle 
high  above  meadows,  are  doing  great  good  to  the  farmer  by  feeding  upon 
the  mice  and  other  creatures  which  steal  his  grain  and  girdle  his  trees. 

Methods— Begin  by  observations  on  the  flight  of  one  of  these  hawks 
and  supplement  this  with  such  obseryations  as  the  pupils  are  able  to 
make,  or  facts  which  they  can  discover  by  talking  with  hunters  or  others 
and  b)'  reading. 

Observations — i.  How  can  you  tell  a  hawk,  when  flying,  from  a  crow 
or  other  large  bird?  Describe  how  it  soars?  Does  it  move  off  in  any 
direction;  if  so,  does  it  move  off  in  circles?  How  often  does  it  make 
strokes  with  its  wings  ?  Does  it  rise  when  it  is  facing  the  wind  and  fall  as 
it  turns  its  back  to  the  wind? 

2.  Have  you  seen  a  hawk  flap  its  wings  many  times  and  then  soar 
for  a  time?  If  so,  what  hawk  do  you  think  it  was?  How  does  it  differ 
in  habits  from  the  "hen-hawks?" 

3.  Have  you  noticed  a  hawk  when  soaring  drop  suddenly  to  earth? 
If  so,  why  did  it  do  this? 

4.  How  does  a  hawk  hunt?  How  can  it  see  a  mouse  in  a  meadow 
when  it  is  so  high  in  the  air  that  it  looks  like  a  circling  speck  in  the  sky? 
If  it  is  so  far-sighted  as  this,  how  can  it  be  near-sighted  enough  to  catch 
the  mouse  when  it  is  close  to  it?  Would  you  not  have  to  use  field  glasses 
or  telescope  to  do  this? 

Bird  Study  in 

5.  When  a  hawk  ahghts  what  sort  of  a  place  does  it  choose?  How 
does  it  act? 

6.  Do  hawks  seize  their  prey  with  their  ckiws  or  their  beaks?  What 
sort  of  feet  and  claws  has  the  hawk?  Describe  the  beak?  What  do  you 
think  this  shaped  beak  is  meant  for? 

7.  Why  do  people  shoot  hawks?  Why  is  it  a  sign  of  iguorance  in 
people  to  wish  to  shoot  all  hawks? 

8.  What  is  the  food  of  the  red-shouldered  hawk  as  shown  by  the 
bulletin  of  the  U.  S.  Department  of  Agriculture  or  by  the  Audubon 

2  9.     Where  does  the  hawk  place  its  nest?     Of  what  does  it  build  its 


10.  Compare  the  food  and  the  nesting  habits  of  the  red-shouldered 

and  red-tailed  hawks? 

11.  How  devoted  are  the  hawks  to  their  mates  and  their  young? 
Does  a  hawk,  losing  its  mate,  live  alone  ever  after? 

12.  Describe  the  colors  of  the  hen  hawks  and  describe  how  you  can 
tell  the  two  species  apart  by  the  colors  and  markings  of  the  tail. 

13.  What  is  the  cry  of  the  hawk?  How  can  you  tell  the  two  species 
apart  by  this  cry?     Does  the  hawk  give  its  cry  only  when  on  the  wing? 

14.  Why  should  an  eagle  be  considered  so  noble  a  bird  and  the  hawk 
be  so  scorned?     What  difference  is  there  between  them  in  habits? 

Supplementary  reading — Audubon  Educational  Leaflets  Nos.  8,  9  and 
10;  "The  Sparrow  Hawk,"  Familiar  Wild  Animals,  Lottridge;  "Eyes as 
Cameras,"  also  pp.  101-102  The  Bird  Book,  Eckstorm;  pp.  317-319-  326, 
Birds  that  Hunt  and  are  Htmted;  "Cloud  Wings,  The  Eagle,"  in  Wilder- 
ness Ways;  "The  Sky  King  and  His  Family,"  "Hannah  Lomond's 
Bairn,"  in  Neighbors  with  Wings  and  Fins,  American  Birds,  Finley. 

Reference  books^The  Bird,  Beebe,  pp.  389,  376,  208-211;  Hawks  and 
Owls  from  the  Standpoint  of  the  Farmer,  Fisher,  U.  S.  Department  of 

Yet,  ere  the  noon,  as  brass  the  heaven  turns. 

The  cruel  sun  smites  with  unerring  aim. 
The  sight  and  touch  of  all  things  blinds  and  burns, 

A)id  hare,  hot  hills  seem  shimmering  into  -flame! 

On  outspread  wings  a  hawk,  far  poised  on  high. 

Quick  swooping  screams,  and  then  is  heard  no  more: 

The  strident  shrilling  of  a  locust  nigh 

Breaks  forth,  and  dies  in  silence  as  before. 

— "Summer  Drought,"  by  J.  P.  Irvine. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


±^:--\  I  _..'._.. 

Swallows  and  swifts. 
Drawn  by  L.  A.  Faertes  for  General  Biology  by  J.  G.  Needham. 


Teacher's  Story 

,HESE  friendly  little  birds  spend  their  time  darting  through 
the  air  on  swift  wings,  seeking  and  destroying  insects 
which  are  foes  to  us  and  our  various  crops.  However,  it 
is  safe  to  assume  that  they  are  not  thinking  of  us  as  they 
skim  above  our  meadows  and  ponds,  hawking  our  tiny 
foes;  for  like  most  of  us,  they  are  simply  intent  upon 
getting  a  living.  Would  that  we  might  perform  this 
necessary  duty  as  gracefully  as  they. 

In  general,  the  swallows  have  a  long,  slender,  graceful 
body,  with  a  long  tail  which  is  forked  ornotched,  except 
in  the  case  of  the  eave  swallow.  The  beak  is  short  but 
wide  where  it  joins  the  head;  this  enables  the  bird  to  open  its  mouth  wide 
and  gives  it  more  scope  in  the  matter  of  catching  insects ;  the  swift  flight 
of  the  swallows  enables  them  to  catch  insects  on  the  wing;  their  legs  are 
short,  the  feet  are  weak  and  fitted  for  perching;  it  would  be  quite  impos- 
sible for  a  swallow  to  walk  or  hop  like  a  robin  or  blackbird. 

The  eave,  or  cliff,  swallows — These  swallows  build  under  the  eaves  of 
bams  or  in  similar  locations.  In  early  times  they  built  against  the  sides 
of  cliffs;  but  when  man  came  and  built  bams,  they  chose  them  for  their 
dwelling  sites.     The  nest  is  made  of  mud  pellets  and  is  somewhat  globular 

Bird  Stiuiy 


in  shape,  with  an  entrance  at  one  side.  When  building  on  the  sides  of 
cliffs  or  in  unprotected  portions  of  a  bam,  a  covered  passage  is  built 
around  the  door,  which  gives  the  nest  the  shape  of  a  gourd  or  retort;  but 
when  protected  beneath  the  eaves  the  birds  seem  to  think  this  vestibule  is 
unnecessary.  The  mud  nest  is  warmly  lined  with  feathers  and  soft 
materials,  and  there  are  often  many  nests  built  so  closely  together  that 
they  touch.  The  eave  swallow  comes  north  about  May  ist,  and  soon 
after  that,  may  be  seen  along  streams  or  other  damp  places  gathering 
mud  for  the  nests.  It  seems  necessary  for  the  bird  to  find  clay  mud  in 
order  to  render  the  nest  strong  enough  to  support  the  eggs  and  nestlings. 
The  eggs  are  white,  blotched  with  reddish  brown.     The  parents  cling  to 

The  barn  swallow's  feather  bed. 

the  edge  of  the  nest  when  feeding  the  young.  Both  the  bam  and  eave 
swallows  are  blue  above  but  the  eave  swallow  has  the  forehead  cream 
white  and  the  rump  of  pale  brick-red,  and  its  tail  is  square  across  the  end 
as  seen  in  flight.  The  bam  swallow  has  a  chestnut  forehead  and  its  outer 
tail  feathers  are  long,  making  a  distinct  fork  during  flight,  and  it  is  not 
red  upon  the  rump. 

The  ham  swallows — These  birds  choose  a  bam  where  there  is  a  hole  in 
the  gable  or  where  the  doors  are  kept  open  all  the  time.  They  build  upon 
beams  or  rafters,  making  a  cup-shai)ed  nest  of  layers  of  pellets  of  mud, 
with  grass  between ;  it  is  well  lined  with  feathers.  The  nest  is  usually  the 
shape  of  half  of  a  shallow  cup  which  has  been  cut  in  two  lengthwise,  the 
cut  side  being  plastered  against  the  side  of  the  rafter.     Sometimes  the 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

A  bank  swallow  tenement. 

Photo  by  J.  T.  Lloyd. 

nests  are  more  or  less  supported  upon  a  beam  or  rafter;    the  eggs  are 
white  and  dotted  with  reddish  brown.     The  bam  swallows,  aside  from 

their  constant  twittering,  have  also  a 
pretty  song.  Both  parents  work  at 
bviilding  the  nest  and  feeding  the 
young;  there  are  likely  to  be  several 
pairs  nesting  in  the  same  building. 
The  parents  continue  to  feed  the 
young  long  after  they  have  left  the 
nest;  often  a  whole  family  may  be 
seen  sitting  on  a  telegraph  wire  or  wire 
fence,  the  parents  still  feeding  the  well- 
grown  youngsters.  This  species  comes 
north  in  the  latter  part  of  April  and 
leaves  early  in  September.  It  winters 
as  far  south  as  Brazil. 

The  bam  swallow  has  a  distinctly 
tailor-made  appearance ;  its  red-brown 
vest  and  iridescent  blue  coat,  with 
deeply  forked  "coat  tails"  give  it  an 
elegance  of  style  which  no  other  bird, 
not  even  the  chic  cedar  waxwing  can 

The  Bank  Swallow — When  we  see  a 
sandy  bank  apparently  shot  full  of 
holes  as  by  small  cannon  balls,  we 
may  know  that  we  have  found  a  tenement  of  bank  swallows.  These 
birds  always  choose  the  perpendicular  banks  of  creeks  or  of  railroad  cuts 
or  of  sand  pits  for  their  nesting  sites;  they  require  a  soil  sufficiently  soft 
to  be  tunneled  by  their  weak  feet,  and  yet  not  so  loose  as  to  cave  in  upon 
the  nest.  The  tunnel  may  extend  from  one  to  four  feet  horizontally  in 
the  bank  with  just  enough  diameter  to  admit  the  body  of  the  rather 
small  bird.  The  nest  is  situated  at  the  extreme  end  of  the  tunnel  and 
is  lined  with  soft  feath- 
ers and  grasses. 

The  bank  swallows 
arrive  late  in  April  and 
leave  early  in  Septem- 
ber. They  may  be  dis- 
tinguished from  the 
other  species  by  their 
grayish  color  above ;  the 
throat  and  breast  are 
white  with  a  broad, 
brownish  band  across 
the  breast;  the  tail  is 
slightly  forked.  The 
rough-winged  swallow, 
which  is  similar  in  habits 
to  the  bank  swallow, 
may  be  distinguished 
from  it  by  its  gray  breast 
which  has  no  dark  band. 

Bank  swallow's  nest  with  earth  removed  showing 

tlie  upward  direction  of  the  tunnel. 

Photo  by  J   T.  Lioyd. 

Bird  Study 


Tree  swallows. 
Photo  by  A.  A.  Allen. 

The  Tree  Swalloiv — This  graceful  little  bird  builds  naturally  in  holes  in 
trees,  but  readily  accepts  a  box  if  it  is  provided.  It  begins  to  build  soon 
after  it  comes  north  in  late  April  and  it  is  well  for  us  to  encourage  the  tree 
swallows  to  live  near  our  houses  by  building  houses  for  them  and  driving 
away  the  English  sparrows.  The  tree  swallows  live  upon  many  insects 
which  annoy  us  and  injure  our  gardens  and  damage  our  orchards;  they 
are,  therefore,  much  more  desirable  neighbors  than  the  English  sparrows. 
The  tree  swallows  congregate  in  great  numbers  for  the  southern  migration 
very  early  in  the  season,  often  in  early  August.  They  are  likely  to  con- 
gregate in  marshes,  as  are  also  the  other  swallows.  In  color  the  tree 
swallow  has  a  green  metallic  back  and  head,  a  pure  white  breast  with  no 
band  across  it,  and  these  peculiarities 
distinguish  it  from  all  other  species. 

The  Purple  Martin — The  martin  is 
a  larger  bird  than  the  largest  swallow, 
bemg  eight  inches  in  length,  while  the 
bam  swallow  does  not  measure  quite 
seven.  The  male  is  shining,  steel- 
blue  above  and  below;  the  female  is 
brownish  above,  has  a  gray  throat, 
bro^vnish  breast  and  is  white  beneath. 
The  martins  originally  nested  in  hol- 
low trees  but  for  centuries  have  been 
cared  for  by  man.  The  Indians  were 
wont  to  put  out  empty  gourds  for 
them  to  nest  in ;  and  as  soon  as 
America  was  settled  by  Europeans, 
martin  boxes  were  built  extensively. 
But  when  the  English  sparrows  came, 
they  took  possession  of  the  boxes,  and 
the  martins  have  to  a  large  extent 

A  martin  luiise. 

J  J  5  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

disappeared,  this  is  a  pity  since  they  are  beneficial  birds,  feeding  upon 
insects  which  are  injarious  to  our  farms  and  gardens.  They  are 
also  delightful  birds  to  have  around,  and  we  may  possibly  induce  them  to 
come  back  to  us  by  building  houses  for  them  and  driving  away  the 

The  Chimney  Swift 

HEN  the  old-fashioned  fire-places  went  out  of  use 
and  were  walled  up,  leavmg  the  great  old  chimneys 
useless,  these  sociable  birds  took  possession  of 
them.  Here  they  built  their  nests  and  reared  their 
young,  and  twittered  and  scrambled  about, 
awakening  all  sleepers  in  the  neighborhood  at 
earhest  dawn,  and  in  many  ways  made  themselves 
a  distinct  part  of  family  Hfe.  With  the  disap- 
pearance of  these  old  chimneys  and  the  growing  use  of  the  smaller 
chimney,  the  swifts  have  been  more  or  less  driven  from  their  close 
association  with  people;  and  now  their  nests  are  often  found  in  hay 
barns  or  other  secluded  buildings,  although  they  still  gather  in  chim- 
neys when  opportunity  offers. 

The  chimney  swifts  originally  built  nests  in  hollow  trees  and  caves; 
but  with  the  coming  of  civilization  they  took  possession  of  the  chimneys 
disused  during  the  summer,  and  here  is  where  we  know  them  best.  The 
nests  are  shaped  like  little  wall  pockets;  they  are  made  of  small  sticks  of 
nearly  uniform  size  which  are  glued  together  and  glued  fast  to  the  chim- 
ney wall  by  means  of  the  saUva  secreted  in  the  mouth  of  the  bird.  After 
the  nesting  season,  the  swifts  often  gather  in  great  flocks  and  Hve  together 
in  some  large  chimney;  toward  night-fall  they  may  be  seen  circlmg  about 
in  great  numbers  and  dropping  into  the  mouth  of  the  chimney,  one  by 
one,  as  if  they  were  being  poured  into  a  funnel.  In  the  morning  they 
leave  in  reverse  manner,  each  swift  flying  about  in  widening  circles  as  it 
leaves  the  chimney.  The  swifts  are  never  seen  to  alight  anywhere  except 
in  hollow  trees  or  chimneys  or  similar  places;  their  tiny  feet  have  sharp 
claws  for  clinging  to  the  slightest  roughness  of  the  upright  wall;  the  tail 
acts  as  a  prop,  each  tail  feather  en  ding  in  a  spine  which  is  pressed  against 
the  chimney  side  when  the  bird  alights  and  thus  enables  it  to  clmg  more 
firmly.     In  this  fashion  the  swifts  roost,  practically  hung  up  against  a 


The  swift  has  a  short  beak  and  wide  mouth  which  it  opens  broadly  to 
engulf  insects  as  it  darts  through  the  air.  Chimney  swifts  have  been 
known  to  travel  at  the  rate  of  no  miles  an  hour.  _ 

This  bird  should  never  be  confused  with  the  swallows,  for  when  flymg, 
its  tail  seems  simply  a  sharp  point,  making  the  whole  body  cigar-shaped. 
This  character  alone  distinguishes  it  from  the  long  tailed  swallows.  In 
color  it  is  sootv  brown,  with  a  gray  throat  and  breast;  the  wings  are  long 
and  narrow  and  apparently  curved.  The  manner  of  flight  and  appear- 
ance in  the  air  make  it  resemble  the  bat  more  than  it  does  the  swallow. 

Bird  Stvidy  iij 

Tree  swallows. 
Photo  by  A.  A.  Allen. 

The  Swallows  and  Swifts 

Leading  thouglit — The  swallows  are  very  graceful  birds  and  are  exceed- 
ingly swift  fliers.  They  feed  upon  insects  which  they  catch  upon  the 
w^ns.  There  are  five  native  swallows  which  are  common — the  eave,  or 
cliff,  the  barn,  the  bank,  the  tree  swallow  and  the  purple  martin.  The 
chimney  swift,  although  often  called  so,  is  not  a  swallow;  it  is  more 
nearly  related  to  the  hummingbird  than  to  the  swallows. 

Method — The  questions  should  be  given  as  an  outline  for  observation, 
and  may  be  written  on  the  blackboard  or  placed  in  the  field  notebook. 
The  pupils  should  answer  them  individually  and  from  field  observation. 
AVe  study  the  swifts  and  swallows  together  to  teach  the  pupils  to  distin- 
guish them  apart. 

Observations — i.  What  is  the  general  shape  of  the  swallow?  What 
is  the  color  of  the  forehead,  throat,  upper  breast,  neck,  rump  and  tail? 

2.  Is  the  tail  noticeably  forked  especially  during  flight? 

3.  Describe  the  flight  of  the  swallow.  What  is  the  purpose  of  its 
long,  swift  flight?  How  are  the  swallow's  wings  fitted  for  carrying  the 
bird  swiftly? 

4.  Describe  the  form  of  the  beak  of  the  swallow.  How  does  it  get  its 
food  ?     What  is  its  food  ? 

5.  In  what  particular  locations  do  you  see  the  swallows  darting 
about?     At  what  time  of  day  do  they  seem  most  active? 

6.  Describe  the  swallow's  legs  and  feet  and  explain  why  they  look 
so  different  from  those  of  the  robin  and  blackbird. 

TJie  Eave,    or  Cliff  Swallow 

7.  Where  do  the  eave  swallows  build  their  nests?  Of  what  material 
is  the  outside  ?  The  lining?  Describe  the  shape  of  the  nest  and  how  it  is 

8.  How  early  in  the  spring  do  the  eave  swallows  begin  to  make  their 
nests?  Where  and  by  what  means  do  they  get  the  material  for  nest 
building?     Are  there  a  number  of  nests  usually  grouped  together? 

9.  Describe  the  eave  swallow's  egg.  Where  do  the  parents  sit  when 
feeding  the  young?     AVhat  is  the  note  of  the  eave  swallow? 

10.  AVhat  are  the  differences  between  the  barn  and  the  eave  swallow 
in  color  and  shape  of  tail? 

The  Barn  Swallow 

11.  Where  does ,the  bam  swallow  place  its  nest?  What  is  the  shape 
of  the  nest  ?     Of  what  material  is  it  made  ? 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

1 2 .  What  is  the  color  of  the  eggs  ?  Describe  the  feeding  of  the  young 
and  the  sounds  made  by  them  and  their  parents.  Do  both  parents  work 
together  to  build  the  nesc  and  feed  the  young? 

13.  Is  there  usually  more  than  one  nest  in  the  same  locality?  When 
the  young  swallows  are  large  enough  to  leave  the  nest,  describe  how  the 
parents  continue  to  care  for  them. 

14.  Have  you  ever  heard  the  bam  swallows  sing?  Describe  their 
conversational  notes. 

15.  When  do  the  bam  swallows  migrate  and  where  do  they  go  during 
the  winter?  How  can  you  distinguish  the  bam  swallow  from  the  eave 

The  Bank  Swallow 

16.  Where  do  the  bank  swallows  build?     What  sort  of  soil  do  they 


17.  How  does  a  bank  look  which  is  tenanted  by  these  birds? 

18.  How  far  do  the  bank  swallows  tunnel  into  the  earth?  What  is 
the  diameter  of  one  of  these  tunnels  ?  Do  they  extend  straight  or  do  they 
rise  or  deflect? 

19.  With  what  tools  is  the  tunnel  excavated?  Where  is  the  nest 
situated  in  the  tunnel  and  how  is  it  lined? 

20.  How  can  you  distinguish  this  species  from  the  barn  and  eave  and 
tree  swallows  ?  At  what  time  do  the  bank  swallows  leave  us  for  migration 
south  ? 

TJie  Tree  Swallow 

2 1 .  Where  does  the  tree  swallow 
make  its  nest?  How  does  its  nest 
differ  from  that  of  the  bam,  eave,  or 
bank  swallow  ?  When  does  it  begin 
to  build? 

22.  How  can  we  encourage  the 
tree  swallow  to  build  near  our 
houses?  Why  is  the  tree  swallow  a 
much  more  desirable  bird  to  have  in 
bird  houses  than  the  English  spar- 
row ? 

23.  Describe  the  peculiar  mi- 
grating habits  of  the  tree  swallow. 
How  can  you  tell  this  species  from 
the  bam,  the  eave  and  the  bank 

The  Purple  Martin 

24.  Compare  the  purple  martin 
with  the  swallows  and  describe  how 
it  differs  in  size  and  color. 

2  5 .    Where  did  the  martins  build 
their   nests    before    America    was 
civiHzed?     Where  do  they  like  to  nest  now?     How  do  the  purple  martins 
benefit  us  and  how  can  we  induce  them  to  come  to  us? 

A  tree  swallow. 

Photo  by  Geo.  Fiske,  Jr. 

Bird  Study 


The  Chimney  Swift 

26.  Where  do  the  chimney  swifts  build  their  nests?  Of  what 
materials  is  the  nest  made?  What  is  its  shape  and  how  is  it  supported? 
Where  does  the  chimney  swift  get  its  glue  for  nest  building? 

27.  Describe  how  the  chimney  swifts  enter  their  nesting  place  at 
night.  Where  and  how  do  they  perch  ?  Describe  the  shape  of  the  swift's 
tail  and  its  use  to  the  bird  when  roosting. 

28.  On  what  does  the  chimney  swift  feed  and  how  does  it  procure  this 
food?     Describe  how  its  beak  is  especially  fitted  for  this? 

29.  How  can  you  distinguish  the  chimney  swift  from  the  swallows? 
In  what  respect  does  the  chimney  swift  resemble  the  swallows?  In  what 
respects  does  it  differ  from  them? 

Stipplementary  reading — "Chimney  Swifts,"  Familiar  Wild  Animals, 
Lottridge;  The  Chimney  Swifts,  Washington  Irving;  NestHngs  of  Forest 
and  Marsh,  AVheelock,  p.  191;  "The  Eave  Swallow"  and  "The  Purple 
Martin"  in  The  Bird  Book,  Eckstorm;  The  Second  Bird  Book,  Miller; 
True  Bird  Stories,  Miller,  p.  118;  Our  Birds  and  Their  Nestlings,  p.  155; 
A  Watcher  in  the  Woods,  Sharp,  p.  163. 

Nest  of  the  ruhy-throat 


Photo    by  Geo.  Fiske,  Jr. 


Handbook  of  NaHire-Study 

A  hummingbird  taking  sweetened  water  from  a  flower. 

Photo  by  Mary  Pierson  Allen.      Courtesy  of    Bird    Lore. 


Teacher's  Story 

Formerly  it  was 
believed  that  this 
daintiest  of  birds 
found  the  nectar 
of  flowers  ample 
support  for  its 
active  life;  but 
the  later  methods 
of  discovering 
what  birds  eat  by 
examining  the 
contents  of  their 
stomachs,  show 
that  the  hum- 
mingbird is  an 
insect  eater  of 
most  ravenous 
appetite.  Not 
only  does  it  catch  insects  in  mid  air,  but  undoubtedly  takes  them  while 
they  are  feasting  on  the  nectar  of  the 
tubular  flowers  which  the  humming- 
bird  loves  to  visit.  Incidentally,  the 
hummingbird  carries  the  pollen  for 
these  flowers  and  may  be  counted 
as  a  friend  in  every  respect,  since 
usually  the  insects  in  the  nectaries 
of  the  flowers  with  long  tubu- 
lar corollas,  are  stealing  nectar  without 
giving  in  return  compensation  to  the 
flower  by  carrying  its  pollen.  Such  in- 
sects may  be  the  smaller  beetles,  ants 
and  flies.  The  adaptations  of  the  htmi- 
mingbird's  beak  and  long,  double- 
tubed  tongue,  are  especially  for  secur- 
ing this  mingled  diet  of  insects  and 
nectar.  It  is  interesting  to  note  that 
the  young  hummingbirds  have  the 
beak  much  shorter  than  when  mature. 
Its  beak  is  exactly  fitted  to  probe 
those  flowers  where  the  hummimr- 
bird  finds  its  food.  The  tongue  has  the 
outer  edges  curved  over  making  a  tube 
on  each  side.  These  tubes  are  pro- 
vided with  minute  brushes  at  the  tips 
and  thus  are  fitted  both  for  sucking 
nectar  and  for  sweeping  up  the  insects. 

The  natural  home  of  the  humming-       Til'o  young  hummingbirds  in  nest. 
bird  seems  to  have  been  in  the  Ameri-  Half  natural  size. 

Bird  Study 


can  tropics.  Our  one  species  east  of  the  Rocky  Mountains  with  which  we 
are  all  familiar  has  a  ruby  throat.  This  comes  to  us  after  a  very  long 
journey  each  j^ear.  One  species  on  the  Pacific  Coast  is  known  to  travel 
three  thousand  miles  to  the  north  for  the  summer  and  back  again  in 

Hummingbirds  are  not  supposed  to  sing,  but  to  use  their  voices  for 
squeaking  when  angry  cr  frightened.  However,  I  once  had  the  privilege 
of  Hstening  to  a  true  song  by  a  hummingbird  on  the  Pacific  Coast.  The 
midget  was  perched  upon  a  twig  and  lifted  up  his  voice  with  every 
appearance  of  ecstasy  in  pouring  forth  his  lay.  To  my  uncultured  ear 
this  song  was  a  fine,  shrill,  erratic  succession  of  squeaks,  "as  fine  as  a 
cambric  needle,"  said  my  companion. 

The  nest  of  the  hummingbird  is  a  most  exquisite  structure;  it  is  about 
three-fourths  of  an  inch  in  diameter  on  the  inside  and  about  half  an  inch 
deep.  It  is,  in  shape,  a  symmetrical  cup;  the  outside  is  covered  with 
lichens  to  make  it  exactly  resemble  the  branch  on  which  it  rests;  the 
inside  is  lined  with  the  down  of  plant  seeds  and  plant  fibres.  The  lichens 
are  often  fastened  to  the  outside  with  the  silk  web  of  spiders  or  cater- 
pillars. The  nest  is  usually  saddled  on  a  branch  of  a  tree  from  lo  to  50 
feet  above  the  ground.  The  eggs  are  two  in  number  and  white;  they 
look  like  tiny  beans.  The  young  are  black  and  look,  at  first  glance,  more 
like  insects  than  like  birds. 


The    Hummingbird 

Leading  thoiight — The  hummingbird  in 
flight  moves  its  wings  so  rapidly  that  we 
cannot  see  them.  It  can  hold  itself  poised 
above  flowers  while  it  thrusts  its  long  beak 
into  them  for  nectar  and  insects. 

Method — Give  the  questions  to  the  pupils 
and  let  them  make  the  observations  when 
they  have  the  opportunity. 

Observations — i.  Where  do  you  find 
the  hummingbird?  What  flowers  was  it 
visiting?  At  what  time  of  day?  Can  you 
tell  whether  it  is  a  hummingbird  or  a  hawk- 
moth  which  is  visiting  the  flowers?  At 
what    time    of    day    do    the     hawk-moths 




ever  ccnie 

2.     Does  the 
to  rest?     Describe  its  actions  while  resting. 

3.  What  are  the  colors  of  the  back,  throat,  breast  and  under  parts? 
How  do  you  distinguish  the  mother  hummingbird  from  her  mate? 

4.  How  does  the  hummingbird  act  when  extracting  the  nectar? 
How  does  it  balance  itself  in  front  of  a  flower?  Have  you  ever  seen 
hummingbirds  catch  insects  in  the  air?       If  so,  describe  how  they  did  it. 

5.  Describe  the  hummingbird's  nest.  How  large  is  it  in  diameter? 
What  is  the  covering  outside?     With  what  is  it  lined? 


Hmidbook  of  Nature-Study 

Photo  by  A.  A.  Allen. 

Teacher's  Story 

The  blackbirds  are  among  our  earliest  visitors  in  the  spring;  they  come 
in  flocks  and  beset  our  leafless  trees  like  punctuation  marks,  meanwhile 
squeaking  like  musical  wheelbarrows.  What  they  are,  where  they  come 
from,  where  they  are  going  and  what  they  are  going  to  do,  are  the  ques- 
tions that  naturally  arise  at  the  sight  of  these  sable  flocks.  It  is  not 
easy  to  distinguish  grackles,  cowbirds  and  rusty  blackbirds  at  a  glance, 
but  the  red-wing  proclaims  his  identity  from  afar.  The  bright  red 
epaulets,  margined  behind  with  pale  yellow,  is  a  uniform  to  catch  the 
admiring  eye.  The  bird's  glossy  black  plumage  brings  into  greater  con- 
trast his  bright  decorations.  That  he  is  fully  aware  of  his  beauty,  who 
can  doubt  who  has  seen  him  come  sailing  down  at  the  end  of  his  strong, 
swift  flight,  and  balancing  himself  on  some  bending  reed,  drop  his  long 
tail  as  if  it  were  the  crank  of  his  music  box,  and  holding  both  wings 
lifted  to  show  his  scarlet  decorations,  sing  his  "quong  quer  ee-ee."  Little 
wonder  that  such  a  handsome,  military  looking  fellow  should  be  able  now 
and  then  to  win  more  than  his  share  of  feminine  admiration.  But  what 
though  he  become  an  entirely  successful  bigamist  or  even  trigamist,  he  has 
proven  himself  to  be  a  good  protector  of  each  and  all  of  his  wives  and 
nestlings;    however,  he  often  has  but  one  mate. 

"The  red-wing  flutes  his  0-ka-lee"  is  Emerson's  graphic  description  of 
the  sweet  song  of  the  red-wing ;  he  also  has  many  other  notes.  He  clucks 
to  his  mates  and  clucks  more  sharply  when  suspicious,  and  has  one  alarm 
note  that  is  truly  alarming.  The  male  red-wings  come  from  the  South  in 
March;  they  appear  in  flocks,  often  three  weeks  before  their  mates  arrive. 
The  female  looks  as  though  she  belonged  to  quite  a  different  species. 
Although  her  head  and  back  are  black,  the  black  is  decidedly  rusty;  it  is 
quite  impossible  to  describe  her,  she  is  so  inconspicuously  speckled  with 
brown,  black,  whitish  buff  and  orange.  Most  of  us  never  recognize  her 
unless  we  see  her  with  her  spouse.     As  she  probably  does  most  of  the  nest 

Bird  Study 


building,  her  suit  of  salt,  pepper  and  mustard  renders  her  invisible  to  the 
keen  eyes  of  birds  of  prey.  Only  when  she  is  flying,  does  she  show  her 
blackbird  characteristics, — her  tail 
being  long  and  of  obvious  use  as  a 
steering  organ ;  and  she  walks  with 
long,  stiff  strides.  The  red-wings 
are  ever  to  be  found  in  and  about 
swamps  and  marshes.  The  nest  is 
built  usually  in  May;  it  is  made  of 
grasses,  stalks  of  weeds  and  is  lined 
with  finer  grass  or  reeds.  It  is 
bulky  and  is  placed  in  low  bushes 
or  among  the  reeds.  The  eggs  are 
pale  blue,  streaked  and  spotted  with 
purple  or  black.  The  young  resem- 
ble the  mother  in  color,  the  males 
being  obliged  to  wait  a  year  for 
their  epaulets.  As  to  the  food  of 
the  red-wings  here  in  the  North, 
Mr.  Forbush  says : 

"Although  the  red-wings  almost 
invariably  breed  in  the  swamp  or 
marsh,  they  have  a  partiality  for 
open  fields  and  plowed  lands ;  how- 
ever, most  of  the  blackbirds  that 
nest  in  the  smaller  swamps  adjacent 
to  farm  lands  get  a  large  share  of 
their  food  from  the  farmer's  fields. 
They  forage  about  the  fields  and 
meadows  when  they  first  come 
north  in  the  spring.  Later,  they 
follow  the  plow,  picking  up  grubs, 
worms  and  caterpillars;  and  should 
there  be  an  outbreak  of  canker- 
worms  in  the  orchard,  the  black- 
birds will  fly  at  least  half  a  mile  to 
get  canker-worms  for  their  young. 
Wilson  estimated  that  the  red- 
wings of  the  United  States  would 

four    months    destroy    sixteen 


thousand     two      hundred     million 
larvffi.      They  eat  the  caterpillars 

The  mother  red-wing,  her  nest  and  nestlings. 

Photo  by  A.  A.  Allen. 

of  the  gypsy  moth,  the  forest  tent-caterpillar,  and  other  hairy  larvae.  They 
are  among  the  most  destructive  birds  to  weevils,  click  beetles,  and  wire- 
worms.  Grasshoppers,  ants,  bugs,  and  flies  form  a  portion  of  the  red- 
wing's food.  They  eat  comparatively  little  grain  in  Massachusetts 
although  they  get  some  from  newly  sown  fields  in  spring,  as  well  as 
from  the  autumn  harvest;  but  they  feed  very  largely  on  the  seeds  of 
weeds  and  wild  rice  in  the  fall.  In  the  South  they  join  with  the  bobolink 
in  devastating  the  rice  fields,  and  in  the  West  they  are  often  so  numerous 
as  to  destroy  the  grain  in  the  fields;  but  here  the  good  they  do  far  out- 
weighs the  injury,  and  for  this  reason  they  are  protected  by  law." 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The   Red-winged  Blackbird 

The  rcd-wiyiged  blackbird. 
After  Audubon  Leaflet  No.  25. 

Leading  thought — The 
red-  winged  blackbird 
lives  in  the  marshes 
where  it  builds  its  nest 
However,  it  comes  over 
to  our  plowed  lands  and 
pastures  and  helps  the 
farmer  by  destroying 
many  insects  which  in- 
jure the  meadows,  crops 
and  trees. 

Method — The   obser- 
vations should  be  made 

by  the  pupils  individually  in  the  field.  These  birds  may  be  looked  for  in 
flocks  early  in  the  spring,  but  the  study  should  be  made  in  May  or  June 
when  they  will  be  found  in  numbers  in  almost  any  swamp.  The  questions 
may  be  given  to  the  pupils  a  few  at  a  time  or  written  in  their  field  note- 
books and  the  answers  discussed  when  discovered. 

Observations — i .  How  can  you  distinguish  the  red-winged  blackbird 
from  all  other  blackbirds?  Where  is  the  red  on  his  wings?  Is  there  any 
other  color  besides  black  on  the  wings?  Where?  What  is  the  color  of 
the  rest  of  the  plumage  ?  .      ,     ^    .  . 

2.  AVhat  is  there  peculiar  in  the  flight  of  the  red-wmg?  Is  its  tail 
long  or  short?  How  does  it  use  its  tail  in  flight?  AVhat  is  its  position 
when  the  bird  alights  on  a  reed? 

3.  What  is  the  song  of  the  red-wing?  Describe  the  way  he  holds  his 
wings  and  tail  when  singing,  balanced  on  a  reed  or  some  other  swamp 
grass.  Doesheshowoff  his  epaulets  when  singing?  Why?  What  note 
does  he  give  v/hen  he  is  surprised  or  suspicious?     When  frightened? 

4.  When  does  the  red-wing  first  appear  in  the  spring?  Does  he  come 
alone  or  in  flocks?  Does  his  mate  come  with  him?  Where  do  the  red- 
wings winter?  Irx  what  localities  do  the  red-wing  blackbirds  live ?  Why 
do  they  live  there?  What  is  the  color  of  the  mother  red-wing?  Would 
you  know  by  her  looks  that  she  was  a  blackbird?  What  advantage  is  it 
to  the  pair  that  the  female  is  so  dull  in  color? 

5.  At  what  time  do  these  birds  nest?  AVhere  is  the  nest  built?  Of 
what  material?     How  is  it  concealed?     What  is  the  color  of  the  eggs? 

6.  Do  the  young  birds  resemble  in  color  their  father  or  their  mother? 
Why  is  this  an  advantage? 

7.  Is  the  red-wing  ever  seen  in  fields  adjoining  the  marshes?  Uhat 
is  he  doing  there?  Does  he  walk  or  hop  when  looking  for  food ?  What 
is  the  f ood^'of  the  red-wings ?  Do  they  ever  damage  grain  ?  Do  they  not 
protect  grain  more  than  they  damage  it? 

8.  What   great   good   do  the   red-wings   do   for   forest  trees?     For 

orchards?  .  r         ,1 

0  At  what  time  in  the  summer  do  the  red-wmgs  disappear  from  the 
swamps?  AVhere  do  they  gather  in  flocks?  Where  is  their  special  feed- 
ing ground  on  the  way  south  for  the  winter? 

Bird  Study 


Teacher's  Story 

'I  know  his  name,  I  know  his  note. 

That  so  with  rapture  takes  my  soul; 
Like  flame  the  gold  beneath  his  throat. 

His  glossy  cope  is  black  as  coal. 
O  Oriole,  it  is  the  soig 

Yon  satig  me  from  the  Cottonwood, 
loo  young  to  feel  that  I  was  young, 

Too  glad  to  gness  if  life  were  good." — ^\'ILLIAM  Dean  Howells. 

ANGLIXG  from  the  slender,  drooping  branches  of 
the  elm  in  ^vinter,  these  pocket  nests  look  like  some 
strange  persistent  fruit;  and,  indeed,  they  are 
the  fruit  of  much  labor  on  the  part  of  the 
oriole  weavers,  those  skilled  artisans  of  the  bird 
world.  Sometimes  the  oriole  "For  the  summer 
voyage  his  hammock  swings"  in  a  sapling,  placing 
it  near  the  main  stem  and  near  the  top,  otherwise 
it  is  almost  invariably  hung  at  the  end  of  branches 
and  is  rarely  less  than  twenty  feet  from  the 
ground.  The  nest  is  pocket-shaped,  and  usually 
about  seven  inches  long,  and  four  and  a  half  inches  wide  at  the 
largest  part,  which  is  the  bottom.  The  top  is  attached  to  forked 
twigs  at  the  Y  so  that  the  mouth  or  door  will  be  kept  open  to 
allow  the  bird  to  pass  in  and  out;  when  within,  the  weight  of  the 
bird  causes  the  opening  to  contract  somewhat  and  protects  the  inmate 
from  prying  eyes.  Often  the  pocket  hangs  free  so  that  the  breezes  may 
rock  it,  but  in  one  case  we  found  a  nest  with  the  bottom  stayed  to  a  twig 
by  guy  lines.  The  bottom  is  much  more  closely  woven  than  the  upper 
part  for  a  very  good  reason,  since  the  open  meshes  admit  air  to  the  sitting 
bird.  The  nest  is  lined  with  hair  or  other  soft  material,  and  although  this 
is  added  last,  the  inside  of  the  nest  is  woven  first.  The  orioles  like  to 
build  the  framework  of  twine,  and  it  is  marvellous  how  they  will  loop  this 
around  a  twig  almost  as  evenly  knotted  as  if  crocheted ;  in  and  out  of  this 
net  the  mother  bird  with  her  long,  sharp  beak  weaves  bits  of  wood  fibre, 
strong,  fine  grass  and  scraps  of  weeds.  The  favorite  lining  is  horse  hair, 
which  simply  cushions  the  bottom  of  the  pocket.  Dr.  Detwiler  had  a  pet 
oriole  which  built  her  nest  of  his  hair  which  she  pulled  from  his  head;  is 
it  possible  that  orioles  get  their  supply  of  horse  hair  in  a  similar  way?  If 
we  put  in  convenient  places,  bright  colored  twine  or  narrow  ribbons  the 
orioles  will  weave  them  into  the  nest,  but  the  strings  should  not  be  long, 
lest  the  birds  become  entangled.  If  the  nest  is  strong  the  birds  will  use 
it  a  second  vear. 

That  Lord  Baltimore  founo  in  new  America  a  bird  weanng  his 
colors,  must  have  cheered  him  greatly;  and  it  is  well  for  us  that  this 
brilliant  bird  brings  to  our  minds  kindly  thoughts  of  that  tolerant,  high- 
minded  English  'nobleman.  The  oriole's  head,  neck,  throat  and 
part  of  the  back  are. black;  the  wings  are  black  but  the  feathers  are 
margined  with  white;  the  tail  is  black  except  that  the  ends  of  the  outer 
feathers  are  yellow;   all  the  rest  of  the  bird  is  golden  orange,  a  luminous 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  Baltimore  oriole. 

color  which  makes  him  seem  a  splash  of  brilliant  sunshine.    The  female, 
although  marked  much  the  same,  has  the  back  so  dull  and  mottled  that 

it  looks  olive-brown; 
the  rump,  breast,  and 
under  parts  are  yel- 
low but  by  no  means 
showy.  The  advan- 
tage of  these  quiet 
colors  to  the  mother 
bird  is  obvious  since  it 
is  she  that  makes  the 
nest  and  sits  in  it 
without  attracting  at- 
tention to  its  location. 
In  fact,  when  she  is 
sitting,  her  brilliant 
mate  places  himself 
far  enough  away  to 
distract  the  atten- 
tion of  meddlers,  yet 
near  enough  for  her 
to  see  the  flash  of  his 
breast  in  the  sunshine 
and  to  hear  his  rich  and  cheering  song.  He  is  a  good  spouse  and 
brings  her  the  materials  for  the  nest  which  she  weaves  in,  hanging 
head  downward  from  a  twig  and  using  her  long  sharp  beak  for  a 
shuttle.  And  his  glorious  song  is  for  her  alone;  some  hold  that  no  two 
orioles  have  the  same  song;  I  know  of  two  individuals  at  least  whose 
songs  were  sung  by  no  other  birds;  one  gave  a  phrase  from  the  Wald- 
vogel's  song  in  Sigfried;  the  other  whistled  over  and  over,  "vSweet 
birdie,  hello,  hello."     The  orioles  can  chatter  and  scold  as  well  as  sing. 

The  oriole  is  a  brave  defender  of  his  nest  and  a  m.ost  devoted  father, 
working  hard  to  feed  his  ever  hungry  nestlings ;  we  can  hear  these  hollow 
mites  peeping  for  more  food,  "Tee  dee  dee.  Tee  dee  dee",  shrill  and  con- 
stant, if  we  stop  for  a  moment  under  the  nest  in  June.  The  young  birds 
dress  in  the  safe  colors  of  the  mother,  the  males  not  donning  their  bright 
plumage  until  the  second  year.  A  brilliant  colored  fledgling  would  not 
live  long  in  a  world  where  sharp  eyes  are  in  constant  quest  for  little  birds 
to  fill  empty  stomachs. 

The  food  of  the  oriole  places  it  among  our  most  beneficial  birds,  since 
it  is  always  ready  to  cope  with  the  hairy  caterpillars  avoided  by  most 
birds;  it  has  learned  to  abstract  the  caterpillar  from  his  spines  and  is  thus 
able  to  swallow  him  minus  his  "whiskers."  The  orioles  are  waging  a 
great  war  against  the  terrible  brown-tail  and  gipsy  moths  in  New  England; 
they  also  eat  click  beetles  and  many  other  noxious  insects.  Once  when 
we  were  breeding  big  caterpillars  in  the  Cornell  insectary,  an  oriole  came 
in  through  the  open  windows  of  the  greenhouse,  and  thinking  he  had 
found  a  bonanza  proceeded  to  work  it,  carrying  off  our  precious  crawlers 
before  we  discovered  what  he  was  at. 

The  orioles  winter  in  Central  America  and  give  us  scarcely  four  months 
of  their  company.  They  do  not  usually  appear  before  May  and  leave  in 
early  September. 

Bird  Study 


A}i  oriole  nest-      An  anchor  to  the  windward. 
Photo  by  C.  R.  Crosby. 


The  Oriole 

Leading  thought — The  oriole  is  the  most  skillful  of  all  our  bird  archi- 
tects. It  is  also  one  of  our  prized  song  birds  and  is  very  beneficial  to  the 
farmer  and  fruit  grower  because  of  the  insect  pests  which  it  destroys. 

Method — Begin  during  winter  or  early  spring  with  a  study  of  the  nest, 
which  may  be  obtained  from  the  elms  of  the  roadsides.  During  the  first 
week  in  May,  give  the  questions  concerning  the  birds  and  their  habits. 
Let  the  pupil's  keep  the  questions  in  their  note-books  and  answer  them 
when  they  have  opportunity.  The  observations  should  be  summed  up 
once  a  week. 

Observations  by  pupils — i.  Where  did  you  find  the  nest?  On  what 
species  of  tree?  Was  it  near  the  trunk  of  the  tree  or  the  tip  of  the 

2.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  nest?  How  long  is  it?  How  wide?  Is 
the  opening  as  large  as  the  bottom  of  the  nest?  How  is  it  hung  to  the 
twigs  so  that  the  opening  remains  open  and  does  not  pull  together  with 
the  weight  of  the  bird  at  the  bottom?  Is  the  bottom  of  the  nest  stayed 
to  a  twig  or  does  it  hang  loose? 

128  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

3.  With  what  material  and  how  is  the  nest  fastened  to  the  branches? 
Of  what  material  is  the  outside  made?  How  is  it  woven  together?  Is  it 
more  loosely  woven  at  the  top  than  at  the  bottom  ?  How  many  kinds  of 
material  can  you  find  in  the  outside  of  the  nest? 

4.  With  what  is  the  nest  lined?  How  far  up  is  it  lined?  With  what 
tool  was  the  nest  woven  ?  If  you  put  out  bright  colored  bits  of  ribbon  and 
string  do  you  think  the  orioles  will  use  them?  Why  should  you  not  put 
out  long  strings? 

5.  At  what  date  did  you  first  see  the  Baltimore  oriole?  Why  is  it 
called  the  Baltimore  oriole?  How  many  other  names  has  it?  Describe 
in  the  following  way  the  colors  of  the  male  oriole:  top  of  head,  back, 
wings,  tail,  throat,  breast,  under  parts.  What  are  the  colors  of  his  mate? 
How  would  it  endanger  the  nest  and  nestlings  if  the  mother  bird  were  as 
bright  colored  as  the  father  bird  ? 

6.  Which  weaves  the  nest,  the  father  or  the  mother  bird?  Does 
the  former  assist  in  any  way  in  nest  building? 

7.  Where  does  the  father  bird  stay  and  what  does  he  do  while  the 
mother  bird  is  sitting  on  the  eggs? 

8.  What  is  the  oriole's  song?  Has  he  more  than  one  song?  What 
other  notes  has  he?  After  the  young  birds  hatch  does  the  father  bird 
help  take  care  of  them? 

9.  By  the  middle  of  June  the  young  birds  are  usually  hatched  and  if 
you  know  where  an  oriole  nest  is  hung,  listen  and  describe  the  call  of  the 
nestlings  for  food. 

10.  Which  parent  do  the  young  birds  resemble  in  their  colors?  Why 
is  this  a  benefit? 

11.  What  is  the  oriole's  food?  How  is  the  oriole  of  benefit  to  us  in 
ways  which  other  birds  are  not? 

12.  Do  the  orioles  use  the  same  nest  two  years  in  succession?  How 
long  does  the  oriole  stay  in  the  North  ?     Where  does  it  spend  its  winters  ? 

''Hush!     'tis  he! 
My  oriole,  my  glance  of  summer  fire, 
Is  come  at  last,  and,  ever  on  the  watch. 
Twitches  the  packthread  I  had  lightly  wound 
About  the  bough  to  help  his  housekeeping, — - 
Twitches  and  scouts  by  turns,  blessing  his  luck. 
Yet  fearing  me  who  laid  it  in  his  way. 
Nor,  more  than  wiser  we  in  our  affairs. 
Divines  the  Providence  that  hides  and  helps. 
Heave,  ho!     Heave,  ho!     he  whistles  as  the  twine 
Slackens  its  hold;   once  more,  now!     and  a  flash 
Lightens  across  the  sunlight  to  the  elm 
Where  his  mate  dangles  at  her  cup  of  felt.'" 

— "Under  the  Willows",  Lowell. 

Bird  Study 



Teacher's  Story 

.f?9#^H0REAU  says:  "What  a  perfectly  New  England 
sound  is  this  voice  of  the  crow!  If  you  stand  still 
anywhere  in  the  outskirts  of  the  town  and  listen,  this 
is  perhaps  the  sound  which  you  will  be  most  sure  to 
hear,  rising  above  all  sounds  of  human  ipdustry  and 
leadmg  your  thoughts  to  some  far-away  bay  in  the 
woods.  The  bird  sees  the  white  man  come  and  the 
Indian  withdraw,  but  it  withdraws  not.  Its  untamed 
voice  is  still  heard  above  the  tinkling  of  the  forge. 
It  sees  a  race  pass  away,  but  it  passes  not  away. 
It  remains  to  remind  us  of  aboriginal  nature." 

The  crow  is  probably  the  most  intelligent  of  all  our  native  birds,  it  is 
quick  to  learn  and  clever  in  action,  as  many  a  farmer  will  testify  who  has 
tried  to  keep  it  out  of  com  fields  with  various  devices,  the  harmless 
character  of  which  the  crow  soon  understood  periectly.  Of  all  our  birds, 
this  one  has  the  longest  hst  of  virtues  and  of  sins,  as  judged  from  our 
standpoint;  but  we  should  hsten  to  both  sides  of  the  case  before  we  pass 
judgment.  I  find  with  crows,  as  with  people,  I  like  some  more  than  I  do 
others.  I  do  not  like  at  all  the  cunning  old  crow  which  steals  the  suet  I 
put  on  the  trees  in  winter  for  the  chickadees  and  nuthatches;  and  I  have 
hired  a  boy  with  a  shotgun  to  protect  the  eggs  and  nestlings  of  the  robins 
and  other  birds  in  my  neighborhood  from  the  ravages  of  one  or  two  cruel 

A  pet  crow. 
Photo  bv  S.  .\.  Lottride. 

i^o  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

old  crows  that  have  developed  the  nest-hunting  habit.     On  the  other 
hand,  I  became  a  sincere  admirer  of  a  crow  flock  which  worked  in  a  field 
close 'to  my  country  home,  and  I  have  been  the  chosen  friend  of  several 
tame  crows  who  were  even  more  interesting  than  they  were  mischievous. 
The  crow  is   larger  than  any  other  of   our  common  blackbirds;    the 
northei-n  raven  is  still  larger,  but  is  very  rarely  seen.     Although  the 
crow's  feathers  are  black,  yet  in  the  sunlight  a  beautiful  purple  iridescence 
plays  over  the  plumage,  especially  about  the  neck  and  back;    it  has  a 
compact  but  not  ungraceful  body,  and  long,  powerful  wings;    its  tail  is 
medium  sized  and  is  not  notched  at  the  end;  its  feet  are  long  and  strong; 
the  track  shows  three  toes  directed  forward  and  one  long  one  directed 
backward.     The  crow  does  not  sail  through  the  air  as  does  the  hawk,  but 
progresses  with  an  almost  constant  flapping  of  the  wings.     Its  beak  is 
very  strong  and  is  used  for  tearing  the  flesh  of  its  prey  and  for  defense, 
and  in  fact,  for  almost  anything  that  a  beak  could  be  used  for;   its  eye  is 
all  black  and  is  very  keen  and  inteUigent.     AVhen  hunting  for  food  m  the 
field,  it  usually  walks,  but  sometimes  hops.    The  raven  and  the  fish  crows 
are  the  nearest  relatives  of  the  American  crow,  and  next  to  them  the 
jays.      We  should  hardly  think  that  the  bluejay  and  the  crow  were 
related  to  look  at  them,  but  when  we  come  to  study  their  habits,  much  is 
to  be  found  in  common. 

The  crow's  nest  is  usually  very  large;  it  is  made  of  sticks,  of  grape 
vines  and  bark,  sod,  horse-hair,  moss  and  grasses.  It  is  placed  in  trees  or 
in  tall  bushes  rarely  less  than  twenty  feet  from  the  ground.  The  eggs  are 
pale  bluish  green  or  nearly  white  with  brownish  markings.  The  young 
crows  hatch  in  April  or  May.  Both  parents  are  devoted  to  the  care  of  the 
young,  and  remain  with  them  during  most  of  the  summer.  I  have  often 
seen  a 'mother  crow  feeding  her  young  ones  which  were  following  her  with 
obstreperous  caws,  although  they  were  as  large  as  she. 

While  the  note  of  the  crow  is  harsh  when  close  at  hand,  it  has  a  musical 
quality  in  the  distance.  Mr.  Mathews  says:  "The  crow  when  he  sings 
is  nothing  short  of  a  clown ;  he  ruffles  his  feathers,  stretches  his  neck,  like 
a  cat  with  a  fish  bone  in  her  throat,  and  with  a  most  tremendous  effort 
delivers  a  series  of  hen-Hke  squawks."  But  aside  from  his  caw,  the  crow 
has  some  very  seductive  soft  notes.  I  have  held  long  conversations  with 
two  pet  crows,  talking  with  them  in  a  high,  soft  tone  and  finding  that  they 
answered  readily  in  a  Hke  tone  in  a  most  responsive  way.  I  have  also 
heard  these  same  tones  among  the  wild  crows  when  they  were  talking 
together,   one  note  is  a  gutteral  tremolo,  most  grotesque. 

"Crows  gather  in  flocks  for  the  winter;  these  flocks  number  from  fifty  to 
several  hundred  individuals,  all  having  a  common  roosting  place,  usually 
in  pine  or  hemlock  forests  or  among  other  evergreens.  They  go  out  from 
these  roosts  during  the  day  to  get  food,  often  making  a  journey  of  many 
miles.  During  the  nesting  season  they  scatter  in  pairs  and  do  not  gather 
again  in  flocks  until  the  young  are  fully  grown. 

When  crows  are  feeding  in  the  fields  there  is  usually,  if  not  always,  a 
sentinel  posted  on  some  high  point  so  that  he  can  give  warning  of  danger. 
This  sentinel  is  always  an  experienced  bird  and  is  keen  to  detect  a 
dangerous  from  a  harmless  intruder.  I  once  made  many  experiments 
with  these  sentinels;  I  finally  became  known  to  those  of  a  particular  flock 
and  I  was  allowed  to  approach  within  a  few  yards  of  where  the  birds  were 
feeding,  a  privilege  not  accorded  to  any  other  person  in  the  neighborhood. 

Bird  Study 


The  crow  is  a  general  feeder  and  will  eat  almost  any  food;  generally, 
however,  it  finds  its  food  upon  the  ground.  The  food  given  to  nestlings 
is  very  largely  insects,  and  many  pests  are  thus  destroyed.  The  crows 
damage  the  farmer  by  pulling  the  sprouting  com  and  by  destroying  the 
eggs  and  young  of  poultry.  They  also  do  much  harm  by  destroying  the 
eggs  and  nestlings  of  our  native  birds  which  are  beneficial  to  the' farmer; 
they  also  do  some  harm  by  distributing  the  seeds  of  poison  ivy  and  other 
noxious  plants.  All  these  must  be  set  down  in  the  account  against  the 
crow,  but  on  the  credit  side  must  be  placed  the  fact  that  it  does  a  tremen- 
dous amount  of  good  work  for  the  farmer  by  eating  injurious  insects, 
especially  the  grubs  and  cut-worms  which  work  in  the  ground,  destroying 
the  roots  of  grasses  and  grains.  It  also  kills  many  mice  and  other  rodents 
which  are  destructive  to  crops. 

The  best  method  of  preventing  crows  from  taking  sprouting  com  is  to 
tar  the  seed  com,  which  is  planted  around  the  edge  of  the  field. 

If  any  of  the  pupils  in  your  school  have  had  any  experience  with  tame 
crows  they  will  relate  interesting  incidents  of  the  love  of  the  crow  for  glit- 
tering objects.  I  once  knew  a  tame  crow  which  stole  all  of  the  thimbles 
in  the  house  and  buried  them  in  the  garden;  he  would  watch  to  see  when 
a  thimble  was  laid  aside  when  the  sewing  was  dropped,  and  would  seize  it 
almost  immediately.  This  same  crow  persisted  in  taking  the  clothes-pins 
off  the  line  and  burying  them,  so  that  he  was  finally  imprisoned  on  wash- 
days. He  was  fond  of  playing  marbles  with  a  little  boy  of  the  family. 
The  boy  would  shoot  a  marble  into  a  hole  and  then  Billy,  the  crow,  would 
take  a  marble  in  his  beak  and  drop  it  into  the  hole.  The  bird  understood 
the  game  perfectly  and  was  highly  indignant  if  the  boy  took  his  turn  and 
made  shots  twice  in  succession. 

References — The  American  Crow,  Barrows  &  Schwartz,  Bulletin 
No.  6,  Division  of  Ornithology,  U.  S.  Department  of  Agriculture;  Birds 
in  Relation  to  Man,  Weed  &  Dearborn;  Bird  Neighbors,  Blanchan; 
Birds  of  Villages  and  Field,  Merriam;   Outdoor  Studies,  Needham. 


The  Crow 

Leading  thouglit — The  crow  has  the  keenest  intelligence  of  any  of  our 
common  birds.  It  does  good  work  for  us  and  also  does  damage.  We 
should  study  its  ways  before  we  pronounce  judgment,  for  in  some  locali- 
ties it  may  be  a  true  friend  and  in  others  an  enemy. 

Methods — This  work  should  begin  in  winter  with  an  effort  on  the  part 
of  the  boys  to  discover  the  food  of  the  crows  while  snow  is  on  the  ground. 
This  is  a  good  time  to  study  their  habits  and  their  roosts.  The  nests  are 
also  often  found  in  winter,  although  usually  built  in  evergreens.  The 
nesting  season  is  in  early  April,  and  the  questions  about  the  nests  should 
be  given  then.  Let  the  other  questions  be  given  when  convenient.  The 
flight,  the  notes,  the  sentinels,  the  food,  the  benefit  and  damage  may  all 
be  taken  as  separate  topics. 

The  following  topics  for  essay's  should  be  given  to  correlate  with  work 
in  English:  "What  a  pet  crow  of  my  acquaintance  did;"  "Evidences  of 
crow  intelligence;"  "A  plea  a  crow  might  make  in  self-defence  to  the 
farmer  who  wished  to  shoot  him;"  "The  best  methods  of  preventing  crows 
from  stealing  planted  com." 

1^2  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Observations — i.     How  large  is  the  crow  compared  with  other  black- 

2.  Describe  its  colors  when  seen  in  the  sunlight? 

3.  Describe  the  general  shape  of  the  crow. 

4.  Are  its  w4ngs  long  and  slender  or  short  and  stout? 

5.  Is  the  tail  long  or  short?   Is  it  notched  or  straight  across  the  end? 

6.  Describe  the  crow's  feet.  Are  they  large  and  strong  or  slender? 
How  many  toes  does  the  track  show  in  the  snow  or  mud?  How  many 
are  directed  forward  and  how  many  backward? 

7.  Describe  a  crow's  flight  compared  with  that  of  the  hawk, 

8.  Describe  its  beak  and  what  it  is  used  for. 
g.     What  is  the  color  of  the  crow's  eye? 

10.  When  hunting  tor  food  does  the  crow  hop  or  walk? 

11.  Which  are  the  crow's  nearest  relatives? 

12.  Where  and  of  what  material  do  the  crows  build  their  nests? 

13 .  Describe  the  eggs.  At  what  time  of  the  year  do  the  young  crows 
hatch?  Do  both  parents  take  care  of  and  feed  the  young?  How  long 
do  the  parents  care  for  the  young  after  they  leave  the  nest? 

14.  What  are  the  notes  of  the  crow?  If  you  have  heard  one  give  any 
note  except  "caw,"  describe  it. 

15.  Where  and  how  do  crows  live  in  winter?  Where  do  they  live  in 

16.  Do  they  post  sentinels  if  they  are  feeding  in  the  fields?  If  so, 
describe  the  action  of  the  sentinel  on  the  approach  ot  people. 

17.  Upon  what  do  the  crows  feed?     What  is  fed  to  the  nestlings? 

18.  How  do  the  crows  work  injury  to  the  farmer?  How  do  they 
benefit  the  farmer?  Do  you  think  they  do  more  benefit  than  harm  to  the 
farmer  and  fruit-grower? 

19.  Have  you  known  of  instances  ot  the  crow's  fondness  for  shining 
or  glittering  articles,  like  pieces  of  crockery  or  tin? 

Supplementary  reading— "The  Story  ot  Silver  Spot"  in  Wild  Animals 
I  have  Known,  Seton,  Second  Book  of  Birds,  p.  117;  "Jim's  Babies"  in 
Nestlings  of  Forest  and  Marsh ;  "How  the  Crow  Baby  was  Punished, ' '  True 
Bird  Stories;  "The  Children  of  a  Crow,"  and  "The  Scare  Crow"  by  Ceha 
Thaxter;  Our  Birds  and  their  Nestlings;  "Crow  Ways,"  Ways  of  Wood 
Folk,  Long;  "Not  so  Black  as  he  is  Painted,"  Outdoor  Studies.  Needham; 
The  Crows,  John  Hay;  "Jack  Crow,"  American  Birds,  Finley. 

Bird  Study 


The  cardinal  grosbeak. 
After  Audubon  Leaflet  No.  i: 


Teacher'i  Story 

There  never  lived  a  Lord  Cardinal  who 

possessed  robes  ot  state  more  brilliant  m 

color  than  the  plumage  of  this  bird.     By 

the  way,  I  wonder  how  many  of  us  ever 

think  when  we  see  the  peculiar  red,  called 

cardmal,  that  it  gained  its  name  from  the 

dress  of  this  high  f  unctionaryof  the  church  ? 

The  cardinal  grosbeak  is  the  best  name  for 

the    redbird    because    that    describes    it 

exactly,  both  as  to  its  color  and  its  chief 

characteristic,  since  its  beak  is  thick  and 

large;  the  beak  is  also  red,  which  is  a  rare 

color  in  beaks,  and  in  order  to  make  its 

''MU  "%  redness  more  emphatic  it  is  set  m  a  frame 

^K  \        of  black  feathers.     The  use  of  such  a  large 

^K  V      beak   is   unmistakable,    for   it    is    strong 

^K  ^      enough  to  crush  the  hardest  of  seed  shells 

^^K  or   to   crack   the   hardest   and    driest    of 

MK  grains. 

^W  "What  cheer!  U'liat  cheer! 

That  is  the  grosbeak's  way, 

Wtth  his  sooty  face  and  hts  coat  of  red" 

sings  Maurice  Thompson.  But  besides 
the  name  given  above,  this  bird  has  been  called  in  different  localities 
the  redbird,  Virginia  redbird,  crested  redbird,  winter  redbird,  Virginia 
nightingale,  the  red  corn-cracker,  but  it  remained  for  James  Lane 
Allen  to  give  it  another  name  in  his  masterpiece,  "The  Kentucky 

The  cardinal  is  a  trifle  smaller  than  the  robin  and  is  by  no  means  slim 
and  graceful,  like  the  catbird  or  the  scarlet  tanager,  but  is  quite  stout  and 
is  a  veritable  chunk  of  brilliant  color  and  bird  dignity.  The  only  other 
bird  that  rivals  him  in  redness  is  the  scarlet  tanager  which  has  black 
wings;  the  summer  tanager  is  also  a  red  bird,  but  is  not  so  vermilion  and 
is  more  slender  and  lacks  the  crest.  The  cardinal  surely  finds  his  crest 
useful  in  expressing  his  emotions;  when  all  is  serene,  it  lies  back  flat  on 
the  head,  but  with  any  excitement,  whether  of  joy  or  surprise  or  anger,  it 
lifts  until  it  is  as  peaked  as  an  old-fashioned  nightcap.  The  cardinal's 
mate  is  of  quiet  color,  her  back  is  greenish  gray  and  breast  bufty,  while 
her  crest,  wings  and  tail  reflect  in  faint  ways  the  brilliancy  of  his  costume. 

The  redbird's  song  is  a  stirring  succession  of  syllables  uttered  in  a  rich, 
ringing  tone,  and  may  be  translated  in  a  variety  of  ways.  I  have  heard 
him  smg  a  thousand  times  "tor-re'-do,  tor-re'-do,  tor-re'-do,"  but  Dr. 
Dawson  has  heard  him  sing  "che'-pew,  che'-pew,  we'-woo,  we'-woo;" 
"bird-ie,  bird-ie,  bird-ie;  tschew,  tschew,  tschew;"  and  "chit-e-kew, 
chit-e-kew;  he-weet-  he-weet."  His  mate  breaks  the  custom  of  other 
birds  of  her  sex  and  sings  a  sweet  song,  somewhat  softer  than  his.  Both 
birds  utter  a  sharp  note  "tsip,  tsip." 

The  nest  is  built  in  bushes,  vines  or  low  trees,  often  in  holly,  laurel  or 
other  low  evergreens,  and  is  rarely  more  than  six  or  eight  feet  above  the 

134  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

ground.  It  is  made  of  twigs,  weed  stems,  tendrils,  the  bark  of  the  grape 
vine  and  coarse  grass;  it  is  hned  with  fine  grass  and  rootlets;  it  is  rather 
loosely  constructed  but  firm  and  is  well  hidden,  for  it  causes  these  birds 
great  anguish  to  have  their  nest  discovered.  Three  or  four  eggs  are  laid, 
which  are  bluish  white  or  grayish,  dully  marked  with  brown.  The  father 
cardinal  is  an  exemplary  husband  and  father;  he  cares  for  and  feeds  his 
mate  tenderly  and  sings  to  her  gloriously  while  she  is  sitting;  and  he 
works  hard  catching  insects  for  the  nestlings.  He  is  also  a  brave  defender 
of  his  nest  and  will  attack  any  intruder,  however  large,  with  undaunted 
courage.  The  fledglings  all  have  the  dull  color  of  the  mother  and  have 
dark-colored  bills.  Their  dull  color  protects  the  young  birds  from  the 
keen  eyes  of  their  enemies  while  they  are  not  yet  able  to  take  care  of 
themselves.  If  the  male  fledglings  were  the  color  of  their  father,  probably 
not  one  would  escape  a  tragic  death.  While  the  mother  bird  is  hatching 
the  second  brood  the  father  keeps  the  first  brood  with  him  and  cares  for 
them ;  often  the  whole  family  remains  together  during  the  winter,  making 
a  small  flock.  However,  the  flocking  habit  is  not  characteristic  of  these 
birds,  and  we  only  see  them  in  considerable  numbers  when  the  exigencies 
of  seeking  food  in  the  winter  naturally  bring  them  together. 

The  car  dinals  are  fond  of  the  shrubbery  and  thickets  of  river  bottoms, 
near  grain  fields,  or  where  there  is  plenty  of  wild  grass,  and  they  only  visit 
our  premises  when  driven  to  us  by  winter  hunger.  Their  food  consists  of 
the  seeds  of  rank  weeds,  com,  wheat,  rye,  oats,  beetles,  grasshoppers, 
flies,  and  to  some  extent,  wild  and  garden  berries ;  but  they  never  occur  in 
sufficient  numbers  to  be  a  menace  to  our  crops.  The  cardinals  may  often 
be  seen  in  the  com  fields  after  the  harvest,  and  will  husk  an  overlooked  ear 
of  corn  and  crack  the  kernels  with  their  beaks  in  a  most  dexterous  man- 
ner. During  the  winter  we  may  coax  them  to  our  grounds  by  scattering 
corn  in  some  place  not  frequented  by  cats;  thus,  we  may  induce  them  to 
nest  near  us,  since  the  cardinal  is  not  naturally  a  migrant  but  likes  to  stay 
in  one  locality  summer  and  winter.  It  has  been  known  to  come  as  far 
north  as  Boston  and  southem  New  York,  but  it  is  found  in  greatest  num- 
bers in  our  Southem  States.  Many  nestlings  were  formerly  taken,  to  ship 
in  cages  to  Europe,  but  the  National  Association  for  Bird  Protection  has 
put  a  stop  to  this.  In  Ohio,  no  cardinal  is  allowed  to  be  caged,  and  this 
same  law  should  protect  this  beautiful  bird  in  every  Southem  state,  since 
it  does  not  live  long  or  happily  in  confinement.  The  cardinal's  song  is  not 
at  its  best  in  a  cage,  but  as  the  poet  Naylor  says: 

"Along  the  diist-white  river  road. 
The  saucy  rcdbird  chirps  and  trills; 
His  liquid  notes  resound  and  rise 
Until  they  meet  the  cloudless  skies. 
And  echo  o'er  the  distant  hills." 

The  Cardinal  Grosbeak 

Leading  thought — The  cardinal  is  the  most  brilliantly  colored  of  all  our 
birds  and  because  of  its  color  and  song,  it  has  been  destroyed  by  thousands 
as  cage  birds.  We  should  seek  to  preserve  it  as  a  beautiful  ornament  to 
our  groves  and  grounds. 

Bird  Study  135 

Methods — This  work  must  be  done  by  personal  observation  m  the  field. 
The  field  notes  should  be  discussed  in  school.  The  effect  of  the  whole 
lesson  should  be  to  stimulate  an  interest  in  protecting  these  beautiful 
birds.  If  possible,  send  for  outline  figures  of  the  cardinal  for  the  children 
to  color;  these  outlines  may  be  had  at  the  cost  of  fifteen  cents  per  dozen 
from  the  Audubon  Society,  141  Broadway,  New  York  City. 

Observations — i.     Do  you  know  the  cardinal.?     Why  is  it  so  called? 

2.  How  many  names  do  you  know  for  this  bird  ? 

3.  Is  the  cardinal  as  large  as  the  robin.''  Is  it  graceful  in  shape  or 
Stout  ? 

4.  Is  there  any  color  except  red  upon  it?     If  so,  where? 

5.  What  other  vividly  red  birds  have  we  and  how  can  we  distinguish 
them  from  the  cardinal? 

6.  Describe  the  cardinal's  crest  and  how  it  looks  when  lifted.  Why 
do  you  think  it  lifts  it  ? 

7.  Describe  its  beak  as  to  color,  shape  and  size.  What  work  is  such 
a  heavy  beak  made  for? 

8.  Is  the  cardinal's  mate  the  same  color  as  he?  Describe  the  color  of 
her  head,  back,  wings,  tail,  breast. 

9.  Can  you  imitate  the  cardinal's  song?  W^hat  words  do  you  think 
he  seems  to  sing?  Does  his  mate  sing  also?  Is  it  usual  for  mother  birds 
to  sing?     What  other  notes  besides  songs  do  you  hear  him  utter? 

10.  Where  does  the  cardinal  usually  build  its  nest?  How  high  from 
the  ground?  Of  what  materials?  Is  it  compact  or  bulky?  How  many 
eggs  and  what  are  their  colors? 

11.  How  does  the  father  bird  act  while  his  mate  is  brooding?  How 
does  he  help  take  care  of  the  young  in  the  nest? 

12.  How  do  the  fledglings  differ  in  color  from  their  father?  From 
their  mother?     Of  what  use  to  the  young  birds  is  their  sober  color? 

13.  What  happens  to  the  fledglings  of  the  first  brood  while  the  mother 
is  hatching  the  eggs  of  the  second  brood  ? 

14.  In  what  localities  do  you  most  often  see  the  cardinals?  Do  you 
ever  see  them  in  flocks? 

15.  What  is  the  food  of  the  cardinals?  What  do  they  feed  their 

16.  How  can  you  induce  the  cardinals  to  build  near  your  home? 

17.  What  do  you  know  about  the  laws  protecting  the  redbirds? 
Supplementary  reading — The   Second   Book  of   Birds,   Miller,   p.   S;^', 

True  Bird  Stories,  Miller,  p.  86;     The    Song   of  the   Cardinal,    Porter; 
Audubon  Educational  Leaflet  No.  18. 

"Upon  the  f^ray  old  forest's  ritn 
I  snuffed  the  crab-tree's  sweet  perfume; 
And  farther,  ivhere  the  lij^ht  was  dim,  I  saw  the  bloom 
Of  May  apples,  beneath  the  tent 
Of  umbrel  leaves  above  them  bent; 
Where  oft  was  shifting  light  and  shade 
The  blue-eyed  ivy  ivildly  strayed; 
The  Solomon  s  seal,  in  graceful  play. 
Swung  ^vhere  the  straggling  siinliglit  lay 
The  same  as  when  I  earliest  heard 
J.  Ik  Cardinal  bird." 

— W.  S.  Gallagher. 


Hatidbook  of  Nature-Study 

Teacher's  Story 

called  a  goose  should  be  considered  most  com- 
plimentary, for  of  all  the  birds  the  goose  is  probably 
the  most  intelligent.  An  observant  lady  who 
keeps  geese  on  her  farm  assures  me  that  no  animal, 
not  even  dog  or  horse,  has  the  intelligence  of  the 
goose.  She  says  that  these  birds  learn  a  lesson 
after  a  few  repetitions,  and  surely  her  geese  were 
patterns  of  obedience.  While  I  was  watching  them 
one  morning,  they  started  for  the  brook  via  the 
com  field;  she  called  to  them  sharply,  "No,  no, 
you  mustn't  go  that  way!"  They  stopped  and  conferred;  she  spoke 
again  and  they  waited,  looking  at  her  as  if  to  make  up  their  minds  to  this 
exercise  of  self-sacrifice ;  but  when  she  spoke  the  third  time  they  left  the 
com  field  and  took  the  other  path  to  the  brook.  She  could  bring  her 
geese  into  their  house  at  any  time  of  day  by  calling  to  them,  "Home, 
home!"  As  soon  as  they  heard  these  words,  they  would  start  and  not 
stop  until  the  last  one  was  housed. 

In  ancient  Greece  maidens  made  pets  of  geese;  and  often  there  was 
such  a  devotion  between  the  bird  and  girl  that  when  the  latter  died  her 
statue  with  that  of  the  goose  was  carved  on  her  burial  tablet.  The 
loyalty  of  a  pet  goose  came  under  the  observation  of  Miss  Ada  Georgia. 
A  lone  gander  was  the  special  pet  of  a  small  boy  in  Elmira,  N.  Y.,  who 
took  sole  care  of  him.  The  bird  obeyed  commands  hke  a  dog  but  would 
never  let  his  little  master  out  of  his  sight  if  he  could  avoid  it ;  occasionally 
he  would  appear  in  the  school  yard,  where  the  pupils  would  tease  him  by 
pretending  to  attack  his  master  at  the  risk  of  being  whipped  with  his 
wings  so  severely  that  it  was  a  test  of  bravery  among  the  boys  to  so  chal- 
lenge him.     His  fidelity  to  his  master  was  extreme ;    once  when  the  boy 


Bird  Study  137 

was  ill  in  bed,  the  bird  wandered  about  the  yard  honking  disconsolately 
and  refused  to  eat;  he  was  driven  to  the  side  of  the  house  where  his  mas- 
ter could  look  from  the  window  and  he  immediately  cheered  up,  took  his 
food  and  refused  to  leave  his  post  beneath  the  window  while  the  illness 

The  goose  is  a  stately  bird  whether  on  land  or  water;  its  long  legs  give 
it  good  proportions  when  walking,  and  the  neck  being  so  much  longer 
than  that  of  the  duck  gives  an  appearance  of  grace  and  dignity.  The 
duck  on  the  other  hand  is  beautiful  only  when  on  the  water  or  on  the 
wing;  its  short  legs,  placed  far  back  and  far  out  at  the  sides,  make  it  a 
most  ungraceful  walker.  The  beak  of  the  goose  is  harder  in  texture  and 
is  not  flat  like  the  duck's;  no  wonder  the  bird  was  a  favorite  with  the 
ancient  Greeks  for  the  high  ridge  from  the  beak  to  the  forehead  resembles 
much  the  famous  Grecian  nose.  The  plumage  of  geese  is  very  beautiful 
and  abundant  and  for  this  reason  they  are  profitable  domestic  birds. 
The  "picking"  occurs  late  in  summer  when  the  feathers  are  nearly  ready 
to  be  molted;  at  this  time  the  geese  flap  their  wings  often  and  set 
showers  of  loose  feathers  flying.  A  stocking  or  a  bag  is  slipped  over  the 
bird's  head  and  she  is  turned  breast  side  up,  with  her  head  firmly  between 
the  knees  or  under  the  arm  of  the  picker.  The  tips  of  the  feathers  are 
seized  with  the  fingers  and  come  out  easily;  onh^  the  breast,  the  under 
parts  and  the  feathers  beneath  the  wings  are  plucked.  Geese  do  not  seem 
to  suffer  while  being  plucked  except  through  the  temporary  inconvenience 
and  ignominy  of  having  their  heads  thrust  into  a  bag;  it  hurts  their 
dignity  more  than  their  bodies. 

The  wings  of  geese  are  very  large  and  beautiful ;  although  our  domestic 
geese  have  lost  their  powers  of  flight  to  a  great  extent,  yet  they  often 
stretch  their  wings  and  take  little  flying  hops,  teetering  along  as  if  they 
can  scarcely  keep  to  earth;  this  must  surely  be  reminiscent  of  the  old 
instinct  for  traveling  in  the  skies.  The  tail  of  the  goose  is  a  half  circle 
and  is  spread  when  flying;  although  it  is  short,  it  seems  to  be  sufficiently 
long  to  act  as  a  rudder.  The  legs  of  the  goose  are  much  longer  than  those 
of  the  duck;  they  are  not  set  so  far  back  toward  the  rear  of  the  body,  and, 
therefore,  the  goose  is  the  much  better  runner  of  the  two.  The  track 
made  by  the  goose's  foot  is  a  triangle  with  two  scallops  on  one  side  made 
by  the  webs  between  the  three  front  toes;  the  hind  toe  is  placed  high  up; 
the  foot  and  the  unfeathered  portion  of  the  leg,  protected  by  scales,  are 
used  as  oars  when  the  bird  is  swimming.  When  she  SAvims  forward 
rapidly,  her  feet  extend  out  behind  her  and  act  on  the  principle  of  a 
propeller;  but  when  swimming  around  in  the  pond  she  uses  them  at 
almost  right  angles  to  the  body.  Although  they  are  such  excellent  oars 
they  are  also  efflcient  on  land;  although  when  running,  her  body  may 
waddle  somewhat,  her  head  and  neck  are  held  aloft  in  stately  dignity. 

The  Toulouse  are  our  common  gray  geese;  the  Embdens  are  pure 
white  with  orange  bill  and  bright  blue  eyes.  The  African  geese  h  ave  a 
black  head  with  a  large  black  knob  on  the  base  of  the  black  bill;  the  neck 
is  long,  snakelike,  light  gray,  with  a  dark  stripe  down  the  back;  the  ^^'ings 
and  tail  are  dark  gray;  there  is  a  dewlap  at  the  throat.  The  brown 
Chinese  geese  have  also  a  black  beak  and  a  black  knob  at  the  base  of  the 
bill.  The  neck  is  light  brown  with  a  dull  yellowish  stripe  down  the  neck. 
The  back  is  dark  brown,  breast,  wings  and  tail  grayish  broAATi.  The  white 
Chinese  are  shaped  like  the  bro^^^^  Chinese  but  the  knob  and  bill  are 
orange  and  the  eyes  light  blue. 

1^8  Handbook  of  Nature-Stitdy 

The  Habits  of  Geese 

Geese  are  monogamous  and  are  loyal  to  their  mates.     Old-fashioned 
people  declare  that  they  choose  their  mates  on  Saint  Valentine's  Day,  but 
this  is  probably  a  pretty  myth;    when  once  mated,  the  pair  live  together 
year  after  year  until  one  dies;  an  interesting  instance  of  this  is  one  of  the 
traditions  in  my  own  family.     A  fine  pair  of  geese  belonging  to  my 
pioneer  grandfather  had  been  mated  for  several  years  and  had  reared 
handsome  families;   but  one  spring  a  conceited  young  gander  fell  in  love 
with  the  old  goose,  and  as  he  was  young  and  lusty,  he  whipped  her  legiti- 
mate lord  and  master  and  triumphantly  carried  her  away,  although  she 
was  manifestly  disgusted  with  this  change  in  her  domestic  fortunes.     The 
old  gander  sulked  and  refused  to  be  comforted  by  the  blandishments  of 
any  young  goose  whatever.     Later  the  old  pair  disappeared  from  the 
farmyard  and  the  upstart  gander  was  left  wifeless.     It  was  inferred  that 
the  old  couple  had  run  away  with  each  other  into  the  encompassing 
wilderness  and  much  sympathy  was  felt  for  them  because  of  this  sacrifice 
of  their  lives  for  loyalty.     However,  this  was  misplaced  sentiment,  for 
later  in  the  summer  the  happy  pair  was  discovered  in  a  distant  "slashing" 
with  a  fine  family  of  goslings  and  were  all  brought  home  in_  triumph. 
The  old  gander,  while  not  able  to  cope  with  his  rival,  was  still  able  to 
trounce  any  of  the  animal  marauders  which  approached  his  home  and 


The  goose  lines  her  nest  with  down  and  the  soft  feathers  which  she 
plucks  from  her  breast.  The  gander  is  very  devoted  to  his  goose  while 
she  is  sitting;  he  talks  to  her  in  gentle  tones  and  is  fierce  in  her  defence. 
The  eggs  are  about  twice  as  large  as  those  of  the  hen  and  have  the  ends 
more  rounded.  The  period  of  incubation  is  four  weeks.  The  goslings 
are  beautiful  little  creatures,  covered  with  soft  down,  and  have  large, 
bright  eyes.  The  parents  give  them  most  careful  attention  from  the  first. 
One  family  which  I  studied  consisted  of  the  parents  and  eighteen  goslings. 
The  mother  was  a  splendid  African  bird;  she  walked  with  dignified  step, 
her  graceful  neck  assuming  serpentine  curves;  and  she  always  carried  her 
beak  "Hfted,"  which  gave  her  an  appearance  of  majestic  haughtiness. 
The  father  was  just  a  plebeian  white  gander,  probably  of  Embden  descent 
but  he  was  a  most  efficient  protector.  The  family  always  formed  a 
procession  in  going  to  the  creek,  the  majestic  mother  at  the  head,  the 
goslings  following  her  and  the  gander  bringing  up  the  rear  to  be  sure 
there  were  no  stragglers;  if  a  goshng  strayed  away  or  fell  behind,  the  male 
went  after  it,  pushing  it  back  into  the  family  circle.  When  entering  the 
coop  at  night  he  pushed  the  little  ones  in  gently  with  his  bill ;  when  the 
goslings  took  their  first  swim  both  parents  gently  pushed  them  into  the 
water,  "rooted  them  in,"  as  the  farmer  said.  Any  attempt  to  take 
liberties  with  the  brood  was  met  with  bristling  anger  and  defiance  on  the 
part  of  the  gander;  the  mistress  of  the  farm  told  me  that  he  had  whipped 
her  black  and  blue  when  she  tried  to  interfere  with  the  goslings. 

The  gander  and  goose  always  show  suspicion  and  resentment  by  open- 
ing the^Qouth  wide,  making  a  hissing  noise,  showing  the  whole  round 
tongue  in  mocking  defiance.  When  the  gander  attacks,  he  thrusts  his 
head  forward,  even  with  or  below  the  level  of  his  back,  and  seizes  his  victim 
firmly  with  his  hard,  toothed  bill  so  that  it  cannot  get  away,  and  then  with 
his  strong  wings  beats  the  life  out  of  it.     I  remember  vividly  a  whipping 

Bird  Study  139 

which  a  gander  gave  me  when  I  was  a  child,  holding  me  fast  by  the  blouse 
while  he  laid  on  the  blows. 

Geese  feed  much  more  largely  upon  land  vegetation  than  do  ducks; 
a  good  growth  of  clover  and  grass  make  excellent  pasture  for  them ;  in  the 
water,  they  feed  upon  water  plants  but  do  not  eat  insects  and  animals  to 
any  extent. 

Undoubtedly  goose  language  is  varied  and  expresses  many  things. 
Geese  talk  to  each  other  and  call  from  afar;  they  shriek  in  warnmg  and  m 
general  make  such  a  turmoil  that  people  do  not  enjoy  it.  The  goslmgs, 
even  when  almost  grown,  keep  up  a  constant  "pee  wee,  pee  wee,"  which  is 
nerve-racking.  There  is  a  good  opportunity  for  some  interesting  investi- 
gations in  studying  out  just  what  the  different  notes  of  the  geese  mean. 

The  goose  is  very  particular  about  her  toilet,  she  cleans  her  breast 
and  back  and  beneath  her  wings  with  her  bill,  and  she  cleans  her  bill 
with  her  foot,  she  also  cleans  the  top  of  her  head  with  her  foot  and  the 
under  side  of  her  wing  with  the  foot  of  that  side.  When  oiling  her 
feathers,  she  starts  the  oil  gland  flowing  with  her  beak,  then  rubs  her  head 
over  the  gland  until  it  is  well  oiled;  she  then  uses  her  head  as  a  "dauber" 
to  apply  the  oil  to  the  feathers  of  her  back  and  breast.  When  thus  pol- 
ishing her  feathers,  she  twists  the  head  over  and 
over  and  back  and  forth  to  add  to  its  efficiency. 


HERE  is  a  sound,  that,  to  the  weather-wise  farmer, 
means  cold  and  snow,  even  though  it  is  heard 
through  the  hazy  atmosphere  of  an  Indian  summer 
day;  and  that  is  the  honking  of  wild  geese  as  they 
pass  on  their  southward  journey.  And  there  is  not  a 
more  interesting  sight  anywhere  in  the  autumn 
landscape  than  the  wedge-shaped  flock  of  these  long-necked  birds  with 
their  leader  at  the  front  apex.  "The  wild  goose  trails  his  harrow," 
sings  the  poet;  but  only  the  aged  can  remember  the  old-fashioned  harrow 
which  makes  this  simile  graphic.  The  honking  which  reveals  to  us  the 
passing  flock,  before  our  eyes  can  discern  the  birds  against  the  sky,  is 
the  call  of  the  wise  old  gander  who  is  the  leader,  to  those  following  him, 
and  their  return  salute.  He  knows  the  way  on  this  long  thousand-mile 
journey,  and  knows  it  by  the  topography  of  the  country.  If  ever  fog 
or  storm  hides  the  earth  from  his  view,  he  is  likely  to  become  confused, 
to  the  dismay  of  his  flock,  which  follows  him  to  the  earth  with  many 
lonely  and  distressful  cries. 

The  northern  migration  takes  place  in  April  and  May,  and  the  southern 
from  October  to  December.  The  journey  is  made  with  stops  for  rest  and 
refreshment  at  certain  selected  places,  usually  some  secluded  pond  or 
lake.  The  food  of  wild  geese  consists  of  water  plants,  seeds  and  com, 
and  some  of  the  smaller  animals  living  in  water.  Although  the  geese  come 
to  rest  on  the  water,  they  go  to  the  shore  to  feed.  In  California,  the 
wild  geese  are  dreaded  visitors  of  the  cornfields,  and  men  with  guns  are 
employed  regularly  to  keep  them  off. 

The  nests  are  made  of  sticks  lined  with  down,  usually  along  the  shores 
of  streams,  sometimes  on  tree  stumps  and  sometimes  in  deserted  nests  of 
the  osprey.     There  are  only  four  or  five  eggs  laid  and  both  parents  are 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

devoted  to  the  young,  the  gander  bravely  defending  his  nest  and  family 

from  the  attacks  of  any  enemies. 

Although    there  are    several    species  of  wild    geese    on  the  Atlantic 

Coast,  the  one  called  by  this  name  is  usually  the  Canada  goose.     This 

bird  is  a  superb  creature, 
brown  above  and  gray  be- 
'  neath,  with  head,  neck,  tail, 
bill  and  feet  of  black.  These 
black  trimmings  are  highly 
ornamental    and,   as   if  to 
emphasize   them,   there  is 
a     white     crescent-shaped 
"bib"  extending  from  just 
back   of   the    eyes   under- 
neath the  head .    This  white 
patch  is  very  striking,  and 
gives  one  the  impression  of 
a  bandage  for  sore  throat. 
It  is   regarded    as   a   call- 
color,   and  is  supposed  to 
help    keep    the     flock    to- 
gether; the  side  tail-coverts 
are   also  white  and   make 
another  guide  to  follow. 
Often  some  wounded  or 
-  wearied  bird  of  the  migrat- 
ing flock  spends  the  winter 
in   farmyards  with  domes- 
tic geese.      One  morning  a 
neighbor    of    mine    found 
that  during  the  night  a  wild 
gander,    injured    in    some 
way,  had  joined  his  flock. 
The   stranger   was  treated 
with  much  courtesy  by  its 
new  companions  as  well  as 
by  the  farmer's  family  and 
soon  seemed    perfectly   at 
home.     The  next  spring  he 
mated    with    one    of    the 
domestic  geese.    In  the  late 
summer,    my  neighbor. 
Wild  geese  -flying  in  even  ranks.  mindful  of  wild  geese  hab- 

Photographed  directly  underneath  by  A.  R.  Dugmore.  itS,  clipped  the  wingS  of  the 

Courtesy  of  Country  Life  in  America.  gander  SO  that  he  WOUld  be 

unable  to  join  any  passing  flock  of  his  wild  relatives.  As  the  migrating 
season  approached,  the  gander  became  very  uneasy;  not  only 
was  he  uneasy  and  unhappy  always  but  he  insisted  that  his 
wife  share  his  misery  of  unrest.  He  spent  days  in  earnest  remon- 
strance with  her  and,  lifting  himself  by  his  cropped  wings  to  the  top  of 
the  barnyard  fence,  he  insisted  that  she  keep  him  company  on  this,  for 
web  feet,  uneasy  resting-place.     Finally,  after  many  days  of  tribulation, 

Bird  Study  141 

the  two  valiantly  started  south  on  foot.  News  was  received  of  their  prog- 
ress for  some  distance  and  then  they  were  lost  to  us.  During  the  winter  our 
neighbor  visited  a  friend  living  eighteen  miles  to  the  southward  and 
found  in  his  barnyard  the  errant  pair.  They  had  become  tired  of 
migrating  by  tramping  and  had  joined  the  farmer's  flock;  but  we  were 
never  able  to  determine  the  length  of  time  required  for  this  journey. 



Leading  thought — Geese  are  the  most  intelligent  of  the  domesticated 
birds,  and  they  have  many  interesting  habits. 

Method — This  lesson  should  not  be  given  unless  there  are  geese  where 
the  pupils  may  observe  them.  The  questions  should  be  given  a  few  at  a 
time  and  answered  individually  by  the  pupils  after  the  observations  are 

Observations — i.  What  is  the  chief  difference  between  the  appearance 
of  a  goose  and  a  duck?  How  does  the  beak  of  the  goose  differ  from  that 
of  the  duck  in  shape  and  in  texture?  Describe  the  nostrils  and  their 

2.  What  is  the  difference  in  shape  between  the  neck  of  the  goose  and 
that  of  the  duck? 

3.  What  can  you  say  about  the  plumage  of  geese?  How  are  geese 
"picked?"  At  what  time  of  year?  From  what  parts  of  the  body  are  the 
the  feathers  plucked? 

4.  Are  the  wings  of  the  goose  large  compared  with  the  body?  How 
do  geese  exercise  their  wings?  Describe  the  tail  of  the  goose  and  how  it 
is  used. 

5.  How  do  the  legs  and  feet  of  the  goose  differ  from  those  of  the  duck? 
Describe  the  goose's  foot.  How  many  toes  are  webbed?  Where  is  the 
other  toe?  What  is  the  shape  of  the  track  made  by  the  goose's  foot? 
Which  portions  of  the  legs  are  used  for  oars?  When  the  goose  is  swim- 
ming forward  where  are  her  feet?  When  turning  around  how  does  she 
use  them?  Does  the  goose  waddle  when  walking  or  running  as  a  duck 
does?     Why?     Does  a  goose  toe-in  when  walking?     Why? 

6.  Describe  the  shape  and  color  of  the  following  breeds  of  domestic 
geese :     The  Toulouse,  the  Embden,  the  African,  and  Chinese. 

Habits  of  Geese 

1.  What  is  the  chief  food  of  geese?  What  do  they  find  in  the  water 
to  eat?     How  does  their  food  differ  from  that  of  ducks? 

2.  How  do  geese  differ  from  hens  in  the  matter  of  mating  and  nesting? 
At  what  time  of  year  do  geese  mate  ?  Does  a  pair  usually  remain  mated 
for  life  ? 

3.  Describe  the  nest  and  compare  the  eggs  with  those  of  hens. 
Describe  the  young  goslings  in  general  appearance.  With  what  are  they 
covered?  What  care  do  the  y)arents  give  to  their  goslings?  Describe 
how  the  parents  take  their  family  afield.  How  do  they  induce  their 
goslings  to  go  into  the  water  for  the  first  time?  How  do  they  protect 
them  from  enemies? 


Handbook  of  Nature-Stiuiy 

4.  How  does  the  gander  or  goose  fight?  AVhat  are  the  chief  weapons? 
How  is  the  head  held  when  the  attack  is  made  ? 

5.  How  does  the  goose  clean  her  feathers,  wings  and  feet  ?  How  does 
she  oil  her  feathers?  Where  does  she  get  the  oil  and  with  what  does  she 
apply  it  ? 

6.  How  much  of  goose  language  do  you  understand?  What  is  the 
note  of  alarm?  How  is  defiance  and  distrust  expressed?  How  does  a 
goose  look  when  hissing?     What  is  the  constant  note  of  the  gosling? 

7.  Give  such  instances  as  you  may  know  illustrating  the  intelligence 
of  geese,  their  loyalty  and  bravery. 

8.  Write  an  English  Theme  on  "The  Canada  Goose,  its  appearance, 
nesting  habits,  and  migrations." 

Supplementary  reading — Birds  that  Hunt  and  are  Hunted,  Blanchan; 
"In  Quest  of  Waptonk  The  Wild,"  Northern  Trails,  Long;  "The  Home- 
sickn~essofKehonka,"  Kindred  of  the  Wild,  Roberts;  Wild  Geese,  Celia 


A  sea-gull 
Photo  by  G.  K.  Gilbert. 

Bird  Study 



TeacJier's  Story 

HAT  the  turkey  and  not  the  eagle  should  have  been 
choseiT  for  our  national  bird,  was  the  conviction  of 
Benjamin  Franklin.  It  is  a  native  of  our  country, 
it  is  beautiful  as  to  plumage,  and  like  the  American 
Indian,  it  has  never  yielded  entirely  to  the  in- 
fluences of  civilization.  Through  the  hundreds  of 
years  of  domestication  it  still  retains  many  of  its 
wild  habits.  In  fact,  it  has  many  qualities  in 
common  with  the  red  man.  Take  for  instance  its 
sun  dance,  which  any  one  can  witness  who  is 
willing  to  get  up  early  enough  in  the  morning  and  who  has  a  flock  of 
turkeys  at  hand.  Miss  Ada  Georgia  made  a  pilgrimage  K)  witness  this 
dance"  and  she  describes  it  thus:  "While  the  dawn  was  still  faint  and 
gray,  the  long  row  of  birds  on  the  ridge-pole  stood  up,  stretched  legs  and 
wings  and  flew  down  into  the  orchard  beside  the  barnyard  and  began  a 
curious,  high-stepping,  'flip-flop'  dance  on  the  frosty  grass.  It  consisted 
of  little,  awkward,  up-and-down  jumps,  varied  by  forward  springs  of 
about  a  foot,  with  lifted  wings.  Both  hens  and  males  danced,  the  latter 
alternately  strutting  and  hopping  and  all  'singing,'  the  hens  calling 
'Quit,  quit,'  the  males  accompanying  with  a  high-keyed  rattle,  sounding 
like  a  hard  wood  stick  drawn  rapidly  along  a  picket  fence.  As  the  sun 
came  up  and  the  sky  brightened,  the  exhibition  ended  suddenly  when 
'The  Captain,'  a  great  thirty  pound  gobbler  and  leader  of  the  flock,  made 
a  rush  at  one  of  his  younger  brethren  who  had  dared  to  be  spreading  a  tail 
too  near  to  his  majesty." 

144  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  bronze  breed  resembles  most  closely  our  native  wild  turkey  and  is 
therefore  chosen  for  this  lesson.  The  colors  and  markings  of  the  plumage 
form  the  bronze  turkey's  chief  beauty.  From  the  skin  of  the  neck,  reach- 
ing half  way  to  the  middle  of  the  back  is  a  collar  of  glittering  bronze  with 
greenish  and  purple  iridescence,  each  feather  tipped  with  a  narrow  jet 
band.  The  remainder  of  the  back  is  black  except  that  each  feather  is 
edged  with  bronze.  The  breast  is  like  the  collar  and  at  its  center  is  a 
tassel  of  black  bristles  called  the  beard  which  hangs  limply  downward 
when  the  birds  are  feeding;  but  when  the  gobbler  stiffens  his  muscles  to 
strut,  this  beard  is  thrust  proudly  forth.  Occasionally  the  hen  turkeys 
have  a  beard.  The  long  quills,  or  primaries,  of  the  wings  are  barred 
across  with  bands  of  black  and  white;  the  secondaries  are  very  dark, 
luminous  brown,  with  narrower  bars  of  white.  Each  feather  of  the  fan- 
shaped  tail  is  banded  with  black  and  brown  and  ends  with  a  black  bar 
tipped  with  white;  the  tail  coverts  are  lighter  brown  but  also  have  the 
black  margin  edged  with  white.  The  colors  of  the  hen  are  like  those  of 
the  gobbler  except  that  the  bronze  brilliance  of  breast,  neck  and  wings  is 
dimmed  by  the  faint  line  of  white  which  tips  each  feather. 

The  heads  of  all  are  covered  with  a  warty  wrinkled  skin,  bluish  white 
on  the  crown,  grayish  blue  about  the  eyes,  and  the  other  parts  red. 
Beneath  the  throat  is  a  hanging  fold  called  the  wattle,  and  above  the  beak 
a  fleshy  pointed  knob  called  the  caruncle,  which  on  the  gobbler  is  pro- 
longed so  that  it  hangs  over  and  below  the  beak.  When  the  bird  is  angry 
these  carunculated  parts  swell  and  grow  more  vivid  in  color,  seeming  to 
be  gorged  with  blood.  The  color  of  the  skin  about  the  head  is  more  exten- 
sive and  brilliant  in  the  gobblers  than  in  the  hens.  The  beak  is  slightly 
curved,  short,  stout,  and  sharp-pointed,  yellowish  at  the  tip  and  dark  at 
the  base. 

The  eyes  are  bright,  dark  hazel  with  a  thin  red  line  of  iris.  Just  back 
of  the  eye  is  the  ear,  seemingly  a  mere  hole,  and  3^et  it  leads  to  a  very 
efficient  ear,  upon  which  every  smallest  sound  impinges. 

The  legs  of  the  young  turkeys  are  nearly  black,  fading  to  a  brownish 
gray  when  mature.  The  legs  and  feet  are  large  and  stout,  the  middle 
toe  of  the  three  front  ones  being  nearly  twice  the  length  of  the  one  on 
either  side;  the  hind  toe  is  the  shortest  of  the  four.  On  the  inner  side  of 
the  gobbler's  legs,  about  one-third  the  bare  space  above  the  foot,  is  a 
wicked  looking  spur  which  is  a  most  effective  weapon.  The  wings  are 
large  and  powerful;  the  turkey  flies  well  for  such  a  large  bird  and  usually 
roosts  high,  choosing  trees  or  the  ridge-pole  of  the  bam  for  this  purpose. 

In  many  ways  the  turkeys  are  not  more  than  half  domesticated.  They 
insistently  prefer  to  spend  their  nights  out  of  doors  instead  of  under  a 
roof.  They  are  also  great  wanderers  and  thrive  best  when  allowed  to 
forage  in  the  fields  and  woods  for  a  part  of  their  food. 

The  gobbler  is  the  most  vainglorious  bird  known  to  us;  when  he  struts 
to  show  his  flock  of  admiring  hens  how  beautiful  he  is,  he  lowers  his  wings 
and  spreads  the  stiff  primary  quills  until  their  tips  scrape  the  grotmd,  lift- 
ing meanwhile  into  a  semi-circular  fan  his  beautiful  tail  feathers;  he  pro- 
trudes his  chest,  raises  the  iridescent  plumage  of  his  neck  like  a  ruff  to 
make  a  background  against  which  he  throws  back  his  red,  white  and  blue 
decorated  head.  He  moves  forward  with  slow  and  mincing  steps  and 
calls  attention  to  his  grandeur  by  a  series  of  most  aggressive  "gobbles." 
But  we  must  say  for  the  gobbler  that  although  he  is  vain  he  is  also  a  brave 

Bird  Study  145 

fighter.  When  beginning  a  fight  he  advances  with  wings  lowered  and 
sidewise  as  if  guarding  his  body  with  the  spread  wing.  The  neck  and  the 
sharp  beak  are  outstretched  and  he  makes  the  attack  so  suddenly,  that  it 
is  impossible  to  see  whether  he  strikes  with  both  wing  and  beak  or  only 
with  the  latter,  as  with  fury  he  pounces  upon  his  adversary  apparently 
striving  to  rip  his  neck  open  with  his  spurs. 

Turkey  hens  usually  begin  to  lay  in  April  in  this  latitude  and  much 
earlier  in  more  southern  states.  At  nesting  time  each  turkey  hen  strays 
off  alone,  seeking  the  most  secluded  spot  she  can  find  to  lay  the  large,  oval, 
brown-speckled  eggs.  Silent  and  sly,  she  slips  away  to  the  place  daily,  by 
the  most  round-about  ways,  and  never  moving  in  the  direction  of  the  nest 
when  she  thinks  herself  observed.  Sometimes  the  sight  of  any  person 
near  her  nest  will  cause  her  to  desert  it.  The  writer  has  spent  many  hours 
when  a  child,  sneaking  in  fence  comers  and  behind  stumps  and  tree 
trunks,  stalking  turkeys'  nests.  Incubation  takes  four  weeks.  The 
female  is  a  most  persistent  sitter  and  care  should  be  taken  to  see  that  she 
gets  a  good  supply  of  food  and  water  at  this  time.  Good  sound  com  or 
wheat  is  the  best  food  for  her  at  this  period.  When  sitting  she  is  very 
cross  and  will  fight  most  courageously  when  molested  on  her  nest. 

Turkey  nestlings  are  rather  large,  with  long,  bare  legs  and  scra\\Tiy 
thin  necks,  and  they  are  very  delicate  during  the  first  six  weeks  of  their 
lives.  Their  call  is  a  plaintive  "peep,  weep,"  and  when  a  little  turkey 
feels  lost  its  cry  is  expressive  of  great  fear  and  misery.  But  if  the  mother 
is  freely  ranging  she  does  not  seem  to  be  much  affected  by  the  needs  of 
her  brood ;  she  will  fight  savagely  for  them  if  they  are  near  her,  but  if  they 
stray,  and  they  usually  do,  she  does  not  seem  to  miss  or  hunt  for  them, 
but  strides  serenely  on  her  way,  keeping  up  a  constant  crooning  "kr-rit, 
kr-rit,"  to  encourage  them  to  follow.  As  a  consequence,  the  chicks  are 
lost  or  get  draggled  and  chilled  by  struggling  through  wet  grass  and 
leaves,  that  are  no  obstacle  to  the  mother's  strong  legs,  and  thus  many 
die.  If  the  mother  is  confined  in  a  coop  it  should  be  so  large  and  roomy 
that  she  can  move  about  without  trampling  on  the  chicks,  and  it  should 
have  a  dry  floor  since  dampness  is  fatal  to  the  little  ones. 

For  the  first  week  the  chicks  should  be  fed  five  times  a  day,  and  for 
the  next  five  weeks  they  should  have  three  meals  a  day.  They  should  be 
given  only  just  about  enough  to  fill  each  little  crop  and  none  left  over  to  be 
trodden  under  their  awkward  little  feet.  Their  quarters  should  be  kept 
clean  and  free  from  vermin. 



Leading  thought — The  turkey  is  a  native  of  America.  It  was  intro- 
duced into  Spain  from  Mexico  in  about  1.5 18,  and  since  then  has  been 
domesticated.  However,  there  are  still  in  some  parts  of  the  country 
flocks  of  wild  turkeys.     It  is  a  beautiful  bird  and  has  interesting  habits. 

Method — If  the  pupils  could  visit  a  flock  of  turkeys  the  lesson  would  be 
given  to  a  better  advantage.  If  this  is  impossible,  ask  the  questions  a  few 
at  a  time  and  let  those  pupils  who  have  opportunities  for  observing  the 
turkeys  give  their  answers  before  the  class. 

Observations — i.  Of  what  breed  are  the  turkeys  you  are  studying, 
Bronze,  Black,  Buff,  White  Holland  or  Narragansett? 

J   5  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

2  What  is  the  general  shape  and  size  of  the  turkey  ?  Describe  its 
plumage,  noting  every  color  which  you  can  see  in  it?  Does  the  plumage 
of  the  hen  turkey  differ  from  that  of  the  .gobbler  ?  _ 

c;  What  is  the  covering  of  the  head  of  the  turkey,  wTiat  is  its  color 
and  how  far  does  it  extend  down  the  neck  of  the  bird?  Is  it  always  the 
same  color,  and  if  not,  what  causes  the  change?  Is  the  head  covering 
ahke  in  shape  and  size  on  the  male  and  the  female?  What  is  the  part 
called  that  hangs  from  the  front  of  the  throat  below  the  beak?     From 

above  the  beak?  .  ^     •  i^ 

4.  What  is  the  color  of  the  beak?  Is  it  short  or  long,  straight  or 
curved?     Where  are  the  nostrils  situated? 

5.  What  is  the  color  of  the  turkey's  eyes?  Do  you  think  it  is  a  keen- 
sighted  bird  ?  ,  •  1       . 

6.  Where  are  the  ears?     Do  they  show  as  plainly  as  a  chicken  s  ears 

do  ?     Are  turkeys  quick  of  hearing  ? 

7.  Do  turkeys  scratch  like  hens?  Are  they  good  runners ?  Describe 
the  feet  and  legs  as  to  shape,  size  and  color.  Has  the  male  a  spur  on  his 
legs,  and  if  so,  where  is  it  situated-?     For  what  is  it  used? 

^  8.  Can  turkeys  fly  well  ?  Are  the  wings  small  or  comparatively  large 
and  strong  for  the  weight  of  the  body?  Do  turkeys  prefer  high  or  low 
places  for  perching  when  they  sleep  ?  Is  it  well  to  house  and  confine  them 
in  small  buildings  and  parks  as  is  done  with  other  fowls  ? 

9.  Tell,  as  nearly  as  you  can  discover  by  close  observation,  how  the 
gobbler  sets  each  part  of  his  plumage  when  he  is  "showing  off"  or  strut- 
ting? What  do  you  think  is  the  bird's  purpose  in  thus  exhibiting  his  fine 
feathers?  Does  the  "King  of  the  flock"  permit  any  such  action  by  other 
"gobblers"  in  his  company? 

10.  Are  turkeys  timid  and  cowardly  or  independent  and  brave,  ready 
to  meet  and  fight  anything  which  they  think  is  threatening  to  their  com- 
fort and  safety? 

11.  When  turkeys  fight,  w^hat  parts  of  their  bodies  seem  to  be  used 
as  weapons?  Does  the  male  "gobble"  during  a  fight,  or  only  as  a  chal- 
lenge or  in  triumph  when  victorious?  Do  the  hen  turkeys  ever  fight,  or 
only  the  males? 

12.  How  early  in  the  spring  does  the  turkey  hen  begin  to  lay?  Does 
she  nest  about  the  poultry  yard  and  the  bams  or  is  she  likely  to  seek  some 
secret  and  distant  spot  where  she  may  hide  her  eggs?  Describe  the 
turkey's  egg,  as  well  as  you  can,  as  to  color,  shape  and  size.  Can  one  tell 
it  by  the  taste  from  an  ordinary  hen's  egg?  About  how  many  eggs  does 
the  turkey  hen  lay  in  her  nest  before  she  begins  to  "get  broody"  and  want 

to  sit  ? 

13.  How  many  days  of  incubation  are  required  to  hatch  the  turkey 
chick?  Is  it  as  downy  and  pretty  as  other  little  chicks?  How  often 
should  the  young  chicks  be  fed,  and  what  food  do  you  think  is  best  for 
them?     Are  turkey  chicks  as  hardy  as  other  chicks? 

14.  Is  the  turkey  hen  generally  a  good  mother?  Is  she  cross  or 
gentle  when  sitting  and  when  brooding  her  young?  Is  it  possible  to  keep 
the  mother  turkey  as  closely  confined  with  her  brood  as  it  is  with  the 
mother  hen  ?  What  supplies  should  be  given  to  her  in  the  way  of  food, 
grits,  dust-baths,  etc.? 

Supplementary  reading — Birds  that  Hunt  and  are  Hunted,  Blanchan. 

Bird  Study  147 


The  Study  of  Birds'  Nests  in  Winter 

There  are  very  good  reasons  for  not  studying  birds'  nests  in  summer, 
since  too  much  famiHarity  on  the  part  of  eager  children  is  something  the 
birds  do  not  understand  and  are  Hkely,  in  consequence,  to  abandon  both 
nest  and  locaHty.  But  after  the  birds  have  gone  to  sunnier  chmes  and 
the  empty  nests  are  the  only  mementos  we  have  of  them,  then  we  may 
study  these  habitations  carefully  and  learn  how  to  properly  appreciate 
the  small  architects  which  made  them.  I  think  that  every  one  of  us  who 
carefully  examines  the  way  that  a  nest  is  made  must  have  a  feeling  of 
respect  for  its  clever  little  builder. 

I  know  of  certain  schools  where  the  children  make  large  collections  of 
these  winter  nests,  properly  labelling  each,  and  thus  gaining  a  new 
interest  in  the  bird  life  of  their  locality.  A  nest  when  collected  should  be 
labelled  in  the  following  manner? 

Name  of  the  bird  w^hich  built  the  nest. 

Where  the  nest  was  found. 

If  in  a  tree,  what  kind? 

How  high  from  the  ground? 

Bird  Homes,  by  A.  R.  Dugmore  is  a  book  which  affords  practical 
help  in  determining  the  species  of  birds  which  made  the  nests. 

After  a  collection  of  nests  has  been  made  let  the  pupils  study  them 
according  to  the  following  outline: 

1.  Where  was  the  nest  found? 

a.  If  on  the  ground,  describe  the  locality, 

b.  If  on  a  plant,  tree  or  shrub,  tell  the  species,  if  possible. 

c.  If  on  a  tree,  tell  where  it  was  on  a  branch,  in  a  fork,  or  hanging 
by  the  end  of  the  twigs. 

d.  How  high  from  the  ground,  and  what  was  the  locality? 

e.  If  on  or  in  a  building,  how  situated? 

2 .  Did  the  nest  have  any  arrangement  to  protect  it  from  rain  ? 

3 .  Give  the  size  of  the  nest,  the  diameter  of  the  inside  and  the  outside ; 
also  the  depth  of  the  inside. 

4.  What  is  the  form  of  the  nest?  Are  its  sides  flaring  or  straight? 
Is  the  nest  shaped  like  a  cup,  basket  or  pocket? 

5.  What  materials  compose  the  outside  of  the  nest  and  how  are  they 
arranged  ? 

6.  Of  what  materials  is  the  lining  made,  and  how  are  they  arranged? 
If  hair  or  feathers  are  used,  on  what  creature  did  they  grow? 

7.  How  are  the  materials  of  the  nest  held  together,  that  is,  are  they 
woven,  plastered,  or  held  in  place  by  environment? 

8.  Had  the  nest  anything  peculiar  about  it  either  in  situation,  con- 
struction or  material  that  would  tend  to  render  it  invisible  to  the  casual 
glance  ? 


.Handbook  of  Nature-Stiidy 

''Noon  time  and  June  Uuic  down 

around  the  river.'' 

FisJi  Study 



"It  remains  yet  u>iresolved  ivhether  the  happiness  of  a  man  in  this  world  doth  consist 
more  in  contemplation  or  action.  Concerning  which  two  opinions  I  shall  forebear  to 
add  a  third  by  dcclari)ig  my  oivn,  and  rest  myself  contented  in  telling  yon  that  both  of 
these  m,eet  together,  and  do  most  properly  belong  to  the  most  honest,  ingenious ,  qidet  and 
harjnless  art  of  angling.  And  first  I  tell  yon  what  some  have  observed,  and  I  have 
found  to  be  a  real  truth,  that  the  very  sitting  by  the  riverside  is  not  only  the  quietest  and 
the  fittest  place  for  contemplation,  but  ivill  invite  an  angler  to  it.'' — Isaak  Walton. 

^EAR,  human,  old  Isaak  AValton  discovered  that  nature- 
study,  fishing,  and  philosophy  were  akin  and  as  inevitably 
related  as  the  three  angles  of  a  triangle.  And  yet  it  is 
surprising  how  little  the  fish  have  been  used  as  subjects 
for  nature  lessons.  Every  brook  and  pond  is  a  treasure 
to  the  teacher  who  will  find  what  there  is  in  it  and  who 
knows  what  may  be  gotten  out  of  it. 
Luckily  there  are  some  very  good  books  on  fishes  which  will  assist 
materially  in  making  the  fish  lessons  interesting:  Fishes,  by  David  Starr 
Jordan,  is  a  magnificent  popular  work  in  two  volumes;  American  Food 
and  Game  Fishes,  by  Jordan  and  Evermann,  is  one  of  the  volumes  of  the 
valuable  Nature  Library.  While  for  supplementary  reading  the  follow- 
ing will  prove  instructive  and  entertaining:  The  Story  of  the  Fishes, 
Baskett;  Fish  Stories,  by  Holder  and  Jordan;  "The  Story  of  a  Salmon," 
in  Science  Sketches,  by  Jordan;  Neighbors  with  Wings  and  Fins,  Johon- 
not;  Half  Hours  with  Fishes,  Reptiles  and  Birds,  Holder. 

Almost  any  of  the  fishes  found  in  brook  or  pond  may  be  kept  in  an 
aquarium  for  a  few  days  of  observation  in  the  schoolroom.  A  water  pail 
or  bucket  does  very  well  if  there  is  no  glass  aquarium.  The  water  should 
be  changed  every  day  and  at  least  once  a  day  it  should  be  aerated  by 
dipping  it  up  and  pouring  it  back  from  some  distance  above.  The  prac- 
tice should  be  established,  once  for  all,  of  putting  these  finny  prisoners 
back  into  the  brook  after  they  have  been  studied. 


Teacher's  Story 

NCE  upon  a  time,  if  stories  are  true,  there  lived 
a  king  called  Midas,  whose  touch  turned 
everything  to  gold.  Whenever  I  see  gold- 
fish, I  wonder  if,  perhaps,  King  Midas 
were  not  a  Chinese  and  if  he  perchance 
did  not  handle  some  of  the  little  fish  in 
Orient  streams.  But  common  man  has 
learned  a  magic  as  wonderful  as  that  of  King 
Midas,  although  it  does  not  act  so  im- 
mediately, for  it  is  through  his  agency  in 
selecting  and  breeding  that  we  have  gained  these  exquisite  fish  for  our 
aquaria.  In  the  streams  of  China  the  goldfish,  which  were  the  ancestors 
of  these  effulgent  creatures,  wore  safe  green  col()rs  Hke  the  shiners  in 
our  brooks;  and  if  any  goldfish  escape  from  our  fountains  and  run  wild, 
their  progeny  return  to  their  native  olive-green  color.      There  are  many 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

such  dull-colored  goldfish  in  the  Delaware  and  Potomac  and  other  east- 
ern rivers.  It  is  almost  inconceivable  that  one  of  the  brilliant  colored 
fishes,  if  it  chanced  to  escape  into  our  ponds,  should  escape  the  fate  of 
being  eaten  by  some  larger  fish  attracted  by  such  glittering  bait. 

The  goldfish,  as  we  see  it  in  the  aquarium,  is  brilliant  orange  above  and 
pale  lemon-yellow  below;  there  are  many  specimens  that  are  adorned 
with  black  patches.  And  as  if  this  fish  were  bound  to  imitate  the  precious 
metals,  there  are  individuals  which  are  silver  instead  of  gold:  they  are 
oxydized  silver  above  and  polished  silver  below.  The  goldfish  are  closely 
related  to  the  carp  and  can  live  in  waters  that  are  stale.  However,  the 
water  in  the  aquarium  should  be  changed  at  least  twice  a  week  to  keep  it 
clear.  Goldfish  should  not  be  fed  too  lavishly.  An  inch  square  of  one  of 
the  sheets  of  prepared  fish  food,  we  have  found  a  fair  daily  ration  for  five 
medium  sized  fish ;  these  fish  are  more  likely  to  die  from  overfeeding  than 
from  starving.  Goldfish  are  naturally  long-lived;  Miss  Ada  Georgia  has 
kept  them  until  seven  years  old  in  a  school  aquarium;  and  there  is  on 
record  one  goldfish  that  lived  nine  years. 

Too  often  the  wonderful  common  things  are  never  noticed  because  of 
their  commonness;  and  there  is  no  better  instance  of  this  than  the  form 
and  movements  of  a  fish.  It  is  an  animal  in  many  ways  similar  to  ani- 
mals that  live  on  land;  but  its  form  and  structure  are  such  that  it  is 
perfectly  adapted  to  live  in  water  all  its  life;  there  are  none  of  the  true 
fishes  which  five  portions  of  their  lives  on  land  as  do  the  frogs.  The  first 
peculiarity  of  the  fish  is  its  shape.  Looked  at  from  above,  the  broader 
part  of  the  body  is  near  the  front  end  which  is  rounded  or  pointed  so  as  to 
cut  the  water  readily.  The  long,  narrow,  hind  portion  of  the  body  with 
the  tail  acts  as  a  propeller.  Seen  from  the  side,  the  body  is  a  smooth, 
graceful  oval  and  this  form  is  especially  adapted  to  move  through  the 
water  swiftly,  as  can  be  demonstrated  to  the  pupil  by  cutting  a  model  of 
the  fish  from  wood  and  trying  to  move  it  through  the  water  sidewise. 

Normally,  the  fish  has  seven  fins,  one  along  the  back  called  the  dorsal, 
one  at  the  end  of  the  tail  called  the  tail  or  caudal  fin,  one  beneath  the  rear 
end  of  the  body  called  the  anal,  a  pair  on  the  lower  side  of  the  body  called 
the  ventrals,  and  a  pair  just  back  of  the  gill  openings  called  the  pectorals. 
All  these  fins  play  their  own  parts  in  the  movements  of  the  fish.     The  dor- 

'Gili  opening 
Vfcntrol  fin 

Goldfish  with  the  parts  named. 
This  figure  should  be  copied  on  the  blackboard  for  reference. 

Fish  Study  151 

sal  fin  is  usually  higher  in  front  than  behind  and  can  be  lifted  or  shut  down 
hke  a  fan.  This  fin  when  it  is  lifted  gives  the  fish  greater  height  and  it 
can  be  twisted  to  one  side  or  the  other  and  thus  be  made  a  factor  in 
steering.  The  anal  fin  on  the  lower  side  acts  in  a  similar  manner.  The 
tail  fin  is  the  propeller  and  sends  the  body  forward  by  pressing  backward 
on  the  water,  first  on  one  side  and  then  on  the  other,  being  used  Hke  a 
scull.  The  tail  fin  varies  in  shape  very  much  in  different  species.  In  the 
goldfish  it  is  fanlike,  with  a  deeply  notched  hind  edge,  but  in  some  it  is 
rounded  or  square. 

The  paired  fins  correspond  anatomically  to  our  arms  and  legs,  the 
pectorals  representing  the  arms,  the  ventrals  the  legs.  Fins  are  made  up 
of  rays,  as  the  bony  rods  are  called  which  support  the  membrane;  these 
rays  are  of  two  kinds,  those  which  are  soft,  flexible,  many  jointed  and 
usually  branched  at  the  tip;  and  those  which  are  bony,  not  jointed  and 
which  are  usually  stiff  spines.  When  the  spines  are  present  in  a  fin  they 
precede  the  soft  rays. 

Fishes'  eyes  have  no  eyelid  but  the  eyeball  is  movable,  and  this  often 
gives  the  impression  that  the  fish  winks.  Fishes  are  necessarily  near- 
sighted since  the  lens  of  the  eye  has  to  be  spherical  in  order  to  see  in  the 
water.  The  sense  of  smell  is^located  in  a  little  sac  to  which  the  nostril 
leads;  the  nostrils  are  small  and  often  partitioned  and  may  be  seen  on 
either  side  of  the  snout.  The  nostrils  have  no  connection  whatever  with 
breathing,  in  the  fish. 

The  tongue  of  the  fish  is  very  bony  or  bristly  and  immovable.  There 
is  very  Httle  sense  of  taste  developed  in  it.  The  shape,  number  and 
position  of  the  teeth  vary  according  to  the  food  habits  of  the  fish.  The 
commonest  tvpe  of  teeth  are  fine,  sharp  and  short  and  are  arranged  m 
pads,  as  seen  in  the  bullhead.  Some  fish  have  blunt  teeth  suitable  for 
crushing  shells.  Herbivorous  fishes  have  sharp  teeth  with  serrated  edges, 
while  those  living  upon  crabs  and  snails  have  incisor-like  teeth.  In  some 
specimens  we  find  several  types  of  teeth,  in  others  the  teeth  may  be 
entirely  absent.  The  teeth  are  borne  not  only  on  the  jaws  but  also  in  the 
roof  of  the  mouth,  on  the  tongue  and  in  the  throat. 

The  ear  of  the  fish  has  neither  outside  form  nor  opening  and  is  very 
imperfect  in  comparison  with  that  of  man.  Extending  along  the  sides  of 
the  body  from  head  to  tail  is  a  line  of  modified  scales  contammg  small 
tubes  connecting  with  nerves;  this  is  called  the  lateral  line  and  it  is 
believed  that  it  is  in  some  way  connected  with  the  fish's  senses,  perhaps 
with  the  sense  of  hearing. 

Since  fishes  must  push  through  water,  which  is  more  difhcult  than 
moving  through  air,  thev  need  to  have  the  body  well  protected.  This 
protection  is,  in  most  fishes,  in  the  form  of  an  armor  of  scales  which  are 
smooth  and  allow  the  bodv  to  pass  through  the  water  with  little  friction. 
These  scales  overlap  like  shingles  in  a  roof  and  are  all  directed  backward. 
The  study  of  the  fish  scale  shows  that  it  grows  in  layers. 

In  order  to  understand  how  the  fish  breathes  we  must  examine  its  gills. 
In  front,  just  above  the  entrance  to  the  gullet  are  several  bony  ridges 
which  bear  two  rows  of  pinkish  fringes;  these  are  the  gill  arches  and  the 
fringes  are  the  gills.  The  gills  are  filled  with  tiny  bloodvessels,  and  as  the 
water  passes  over  them,  the  impurities  of  the  blood  pass  out  through  the 
thin  skin  of  the  gills  and  the  life-giving  oxygen  passes  m.  Since  hsh 
cannot  make  use  of  air  unless  it  is  dissolved  in  water,  it  is  very  important 

1^2  Handbook  of  Nature- Study 

that  the  water  in  the  aquarium  jar  should  often  be  replenished.  The  gill 
arches  also  bear  a  series  of  bony  processes  called  gill-rakers.  Their 
function  is  to  prevent  the  escape  of  food  through  the  gills  while  it  is  being 
swallowed,  and  they  vary  in  size  according  to  the  food  habits  of  the  fish. 
We  note  that  the  fish  in  the  aquarium  constantly  opens  and  closes  the 
mouth;  this  action  draws  the  water  into  the  throat  and  forces  it  out  over 
the  gills  and  through  the  gill  openings;  this  then,  is  the  act  of  breathing. 

A  Study  of  the  Fish 

Leading  tliought — A  fish  lives  in  the  water  where  it  must  breathe,  move 
and  find  its  food.  The  water  world  is  quite  different  from  the  air  world 
and  the  fish  have  developed  forms,  senses  and  habits  which  fit  them  for 
life  in  the  water. 

Method — The  goldfish  is  used  as  a  subject  for  this  lesson  because  it  is 
so  conveniently  kept  where  the  children  may  see  it.  However,  a  shiner 
or  minnow  would  do  as  well. 

Before  the  pupils  begin  the  study,  place  the  diagram  shown  on  p.  150 
on  the  blackboard,  with  all  the  parts  labelled ;  thus  the  pupils  will  be  able 
to  learn  the  parts  of  the  fish  by  consulting  it,  and  not  be  compelled  to 
commit  them  to  memory  arbitrarily.  It  would  be  well  to  associate  the 
goldfish  with  a  geography  lesson  on  China. 

Observatiojis — i.  Where  do  fishes  live?  Do  any  fishes  ever  live  any 
part  of  their  lives  on  land  like  the  frogs?  Could  a  salt-water  fish  five  in 
fresh  water,  or  vice  versa? 

2.  What  is  the  shape  of  a  fish  when  seen  from  above?  Where  is  the 
widest  part?  AVhat  is  its  shape  seen  from  the  side?  Think  if  you  can  in 
how  many  ways  the  shape  of  the  fish  is  adapted  for  moving  swiftly  through 
the  water. 

3.  How  many  fins  has  the  fish?  Make  a  sketch  of  the  goldfish  with 
all  its  tins  and  name  them  from  the  diagram  on  the  blackboard. 

4.  How  many  fins  are  there  in  all?  Four  of  these  fins. are  in  pairs; 
where  are  they  situated?  What  are  they  called?  Which  pair  corres- 
ponds to  our  arms?     Which  to  our  legs? 

5.  Describe  the  pectoral  fins.  How  are  they  used?  Are  they  kept 
constantly  moving?  Do  they  move  together  or  alternately?  How  are 
they  used  when  the  fish  swims  backwards? 

6.  How  are  the  ventral  fins  used?  How  do  they  assist  the  fish 
when  swimming? 

7.  Sketch  a  dorsal  fin.  How  many  spines  has  it?  How  many  soft 
rays  are  there  in  it  ?  What  is  the  difference  in  structure  between  the  stiff 
spines  in  the  front  of  the  dorsal  fin  and  the  rays  in  the  hind  portion?  Of 
what  use  to  the  fish  are  these  two  different  kinds  of  fin  supports  ? 

8.  Sketch  the  anal  fin.  Has  it  any  spines  in  front?  How  many 
rays  has  it?     How  is  this  fin  used  when  the  fish  is  swimming? 

9.  With  what  fin  does  the  fish  push  itself  through  the  water? 
Make  a  sketch  of  the  tail.  Note  if  it  is  square,  rounded,  or  notched  at  the 
end.     Are  the  rays  of  the  tail  fin  spiny  or  soft  in  character? 

10.  Watch  the  goldfish  swim  and  describe  the  action  of  all  the  fins 
while  it  is  in  motion.  In  what  position  are  the  fins  when  the  fish  is  at 

FisJi  Study 


11.  What  is  the  nature  of  the  covering  of  the  fish?  Are  the  scales 
large  or  small?  In  which  direction  do  they  seem  to  overlap?  Of  what 
use  to  the  fish  is  this  scaly  covering? 

12.  Can  you  see  a  line  which  extends  from  the  upper  part  of  the  gill 
opening,  along  the  side  to  the  tail?  This  is  called  the  lateral  line.  Do 
you  think  it  is  of  any  use  to  the  fish? 

13.  Note  carefully  the  eyes  of  the  fish.  Describe  the  i)upil  and  the 
iris.  Are  the  eyes  placed  so  that  the  fish  can  see  in  all  directions?  Can 
they  be  moved  so  as  to  see  better  in  any  direction?  Does  the  fish  wink? 
Has  it  any  eyelids?     Do  you  know  why  fish  are  near-sighted? 

14.  Can  you  see  the  nostrils?  Is  there  a  little  wartlike  projection 
connected  with  the  nostril?  Do  you  think  fishes  breathe  through  their 

15.  Describe  the  mouth  of  the  fish.  Does  it  open  upward,  down- 
ward, or  directly  in  front?  What  sort  of  teeth  have  fish?  How  does  the 
fish  catch  its  prey?  Does  the  lower  or  upper  jaw  move  in  the  process  of 

16.  Is  the  mouth  kept  always  in  motion?  Do  you  think  the  fish  is 
swallowing  water  all  the  time  ?  Do  you  know  why  it  does  this  ?  Can  you 
see  a  wide  opening  along  the  sides  of  the  head  behind  the  gill  cover? 
Does  the  gill  cover  move  with  the  movement  of  the  mouth?  Plow  does  a 
fish  breathe? 

■  17.  What  are  the  colors  of  the  goldfish  above  and  below?  What 
would  happen  to  our  beautiful  goldfish  if  they  were  put  in  a  brook  with 
other  fish?  Why  could  they  not  hide?  Do  you  know  what  happens  to 
the  colors  of  the  goldfish  when  they  run  wild  in  our  streams  and  ponds? 

18.  Can  you  find  in  books  or  cyclopedias  where  the  goldfish  came 
from?  Are  they  gold  and  silver  in  color  in  the  streams  where  they  are 
native?  Do  you  think  that  they  had  originally  the  long,  slender,  swallow 
tails  which  we  see  sometimes  in  goldfish?  How  have  the  beautiful  colors 
and  graceful  forms  of  the  gold  and  silver  fishes  been  developed  ? 

'I  have  my  world,  and  so  have  you, 
A  tiny  universe  for  two, 
A  bubble  by  the  artist  blown. 
Scarcely  more  fragile  than  our  own. 
Where  you  have  all  a  whale  could  wish, 
Happy  as  Eden's  primal  fish. 
Manna  is  dropt  you  thrice  a  day 
From  some  kind  heaven  not  far  away, 
And  still  yon  snatch  its  softeni)ig  crumbs. 
Nor,  more  than  we,  tJiink  whence  it  comes. 
No  toil  seems  yours  but  to  explore 
Your  cloistered  realm  from  shore  to  shore; 
Sometimes  you  trace  its  limits  round, 
Sometimes  its  limpid  depths  you  sound. 
Or  hover  motionless  midway. 
Like  gold-red  clouds  at  set  of  day; 
Erelong  yon  whirl  with  sudden  tvhim 

Off  to  your  globe's  most  distant  rim. 
Where,  greatencd  by  the  watery  lens, 
Alethinks  no  dragon  of  the  fens 
Flashed  hnger  scales  against  the  sky. 
Roused  by  Sir  Breis  or  Sir  Guy; 
And  the  one  eye  that  meets  my  view, 
Lidless  and  strangely  largening,  too. 
Like  that  of  conscience  in  the  dark. 
Seems  to  make  me  its  single  mark. 
Wliat  a  benignant  lot  is  yours 
That  have  an  oxen  All-out-of-doors, 
No  words  to  spell,  no  sums  to  do. 
No  Nepos  and  no  parlyvoo! 
How  happy  you,  without  a  thought 
Of  sucli  cross  tilings  as  JSlustand  Ought- 
I  too  the  happiest  of  boys 
To  see  and  share  your  golden  joys!" 

-"The  Oracle  of  the  Goldfishes,"  Lowell. 


Handbook  of  Nattire-Stttdy 


Bullhead  at  bottom  of  a  pond. 
Photo  by  Verne  Morton. 


Teacher's  Story 

"The  bull-head  does  usually  divell  and  hide  himself  in  holes  or  amongst  stones- in 
clear  water;  ami  in  very  hot  days  ivill  lie  a  long  time  very  still  and  sun  himself  and  will 
be  easy  to  be  seen  on  any  fiat  stone  or  gravel;  at  which  time  he  will  suffer  an  angler  to 
put  a  hock  baited  with  a  small  worm  very  near  into  his  mouth;  and  he  never  refuses  to 
bite,  nor  indeed,  to  be  caught  with  the  worst  of  anglers.' 

-IsAAK   Waltox. 


HEN  one  looks  a  bullhead  in  the  face  one   is 
glad  that  it  is  not  a  real  bull  for  its  barbels 

it  an  appearance  quite  fit  for  the 
making  of  a  nightmare;  and  yet  from 
the  standpoint  of  the  bullhead,  how 
truly  beautiful  those  fleshy  feelers  are ! 
For  without  them  how  could  it  feel  its 
way  about  searching  for  food  in  the 
mud  where  it  lives?  Two  of  these  barbels  stand  straight  up;  the 
two  largest  ones  stand  out  on  each  side  of  the  mouth,  and  two  pairs  of 
short  ones  adorn  the  lower  lip,  the  smallest  pair  at  the  middle. 

As  the  fish  moves  about,  it  is  easy  to  see  that  the  large  barbels  at  the 
side  of  the  mouth  are  of  the  greatest  use;  it  keeps  them  m  a  constantly 
advancing  movement,  feeling  of  everything  it  meets.  The  upper  ones 
stand  straight  up,  keeping  watch  for  whatever  news  there  may  be  from 
above-  the  two  lower  ones  spread  apart  and  follow  rather  than  precede 
the  fish  seeming  to  test  what  lies  below.  The  upper  and  lower  pairs  seem 
to  test  things  as  they  are,  while  the  large  side  pair  deal  with  what  is  going 
to  be.  The  broad  mouth  seems  to  be  formed  for  taking  m  all  things  eatable, 
for  the  bullhead  lives  on  almost  anvthing  ahve  or  dead  that  it  discovers  as  it 
noses  about  in  the  mud.  Nevertheless,  it  has  its  notions  about  its  food 
for  I  have  repeatedly  seen  one  draw  material  into  its  mouth  through  its 
breathing  motion  and  then  spew  it  out  with  a  vehemence  one  would  hardly 
expect  from  such  a  phlegmatic  fish. 

Fish  Stiidy 


Although  it  has  feelers  which  arc  very  efficient,  it  also  has  perfectly 
good  eyes  which  it  uses  to  excellent  purpose;  note  how  promptly  it  moves 
to  the  other  side  of  the  aquarium  when  we  are  tryingtostudy  it.  Theeyes 
are  not  large;  the  pupils  are  black  and  oval  and  are  rimmed  with  a  narrow 
band  of  shiny  pale  yellow.  The  eyes  are  prominent  so  that  when  moved 
backward  and  forward  they  gain  a  view  of  the  enemy  in  the  rear  or  at  the 
front  while  the  head  is  motionless.  It  seems  strange  to  see  such  a  pair  of 
pale  yellow,  almost  white  eyes  in  such  a  dark  body. 

The  general  shape  of  the  front  part  of  the  body  is  fiat,  in  fact,  it  is 
decidedly  polywogy;  this  shape  is  especially  fitted  for  groping  about 
muddy  bottoms.  The  flat  effect  of  the  body  is  emphasized  by  the  gill 
covers  opening  below  rather  than  at  the  sides,  every  pulsation  widening 
the  broad  neck.  The  pectoral  fins  also  open  out  on  the  same  plane  as  the 
body  although  they  can  be  turned  at  an  angle  if  necessary;  they  are  thick 
and  fleshy  and  the  sharp  tips  of  their  spines  offer  punishment  to  whom- 
soever touches  them.  The  dorsal  fin  is  far  forward  and  not  large;  it  is 
usuallv  raised  at  a  threatening  angle. 

There  is  a  httle  fleshy  dorsal  fin  near  the  tail  which  stands  in  line  with 
the  body  and  one  wonders  what  is  its  special  use.  The  ventral  fins  are 
small.  The  anal  fin  is  far  back  and  rather  strong,  and  this  with  the  long, 
strong  tail  gives  the  fish  good  motor  power  and  it  can  swim  very  rapidly 
if  occasion  requires. 

The  bullhead  is  mud-colored  and  has  no  scales;  and  since  it  lives  in  the 
rriud,  it  does  not  need  scales  to  protect  it;  but  because  of  its  scaleless  con- 
dition it  is  a  constant  victim  of  the  lampreys,  and  it  would  do  well, 
ndeed,  if  it  could  develop  an  armor  of  scales  against  this  parasite.     The 

Bullhead  guarding  his  nest. 
After  Gill. 

I  r6  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

skin  is  vety  thick  and  leathery  so  that  it  is  always  removed  before  the  fish 
is  cooked.^  The  bullhead  is  the  earliest  fish  of  the  spring.  This  is 
probably  because  it  burrows  deep  into  the  mud  in  the  fall  and  remains 
there  all  winter;  when  the  spiring  freshets  come,  it  emerges  and  is  hungry 
for  fresh  meat. 

The  family  life  of  the  bullheads  and  other  catfishes  seems  to  be  quite 
ideal.  Dr.  Theodore  Gill  tells  us  that  bullheads  make  their  nests  by 
removing  stones  and  gravel  from  a  more  or  less  irregularly  circular  area 
in  shallow  water,  and  on  sandy  or  gravelly  ground.  The  nest  is  somewhat 
excavated,  both  parents  removing  the  pebbles  by  sucking  them  into  the 
mouth  and  carrying  them  off  for  some  distance.  After  the  eggs  are  laid, 
the  male  watches  over  and  guards  the  nest  and  seems  to  have  great  family 
responsibiHties.  He  is  the  more  active  of  the  two  in  stirring  and  mixing 
the  young  fry  after  they  are  hatched.  Smith  and  Harron  describe  the 
process  thus:  "With  their  chins  on  the  bottom,  the  old  fish  brush  the 
comers  where  the  fry  were  banked,  and  with  the  barbels  all  directed  for- 
ward, and  flexed  where  they  touch  the  bottom,  thoroughly  agitate  the 
mass  of  fry,  bringing  the  deepest  individuals  to  the  surface.  This  act  is 
usually  repeated  several  times  in  quick  succession." 

"The  nests  are  usually  made  beneath  logs  or  other  protecting  objects 
and  in  shallow  water.  The  paternal  care  is  continued  for  many  days 
after  the  birth  of  the  young.  At  first  these  may  be  crowded  together  in 
a  dense  mass,  but  as  time  passes  they  disperse  more  and  more  and  spread 
around  the  father.  Frequently,  especially  when  the  old  one  is  feeding, 
some — one  or  more — of  the  young  are  taken  into  the  mouth,  but  they  are 
instinctively  separated  from  the  food  and  spit  out.  At  last  the  young 
swarm  venture  farther  from  their  birthplace,  or  perhaps  they  are  led 
away  by  their  parents." 


The  Bullhead,  or  Horned  Pout 

Leading  thought — The  bvillhead  lives  in  mud  bottoms  of  streams  and 
ponds  and  is  particularly  adapted  for  life  in  such  locations. 

Method — A  small  bullhead  may  be  placed  in  a  small  aquarium  jar. 
At  first  let  the  water  be  clear  and  add  a  little  pond  weed  so  as  to  observe 
the  natural  tendency  of  the  fish  to  hide.  Later  add  mud  and  gravel  to  the 
aquarium  and  note  the  behavior  of  the  fish. 

Observations — i.  What  at  the  first  glance  distinguishes  the  bullhead 
from  other  fish?  Describe  these  strange  "whiskers"  growing  about  the 
mouth;  how  many  are  there  and  where  are  they  situated?  Which  are 
the  longest  pair?     Can  the  fish  move  them  in  any  direction  at  will? 

2.  Where  do  we  find  bullheads?  On  what  do  they  feed?  Would 
their  eyes  help  them  to  find  their  food  in  the  mud?     How  do  they  find  it? 

3.  Explain,  if  you  can,  why  the  bullhead  has  barbels,  or  feelers, 
while  the  trout  and  bass  have  none. 

4.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  bullhead's  mouth? 

5.  What  is  the  general  shape  of  the  body?  What  is  its  color?  Has 
it  any  scales  ? 

6.  Why  should  the  bullhead  be  so  flat  horizontally  while  the  sun- 
fish  is  so  flat  in  the  opposite  direction? 

Fish  Study  iijy 

7.  Describe  the  bullhead's  eyes.  Are  they  large?  What  is  their 
color?     Where   are   they   placed? 

8.  Describe  the  dorsal  fin,  giving  its  comparative  size  and  position. 
Do  you  see  another  dorsal  fin  ?  Where  is  this  peculiar  fin  and  hov/  does  it 
differ  from  the  others? 

9.  Describe  the  tail  fin.  Does  it  seem  long  and  strong?  Is  the 
bullhead  a  good  swimmer? 

10.  Is  the  anal  fin  large  or  small  as  compared  with  that  of  the  gold- 

11.  How  do  the  pectoral  fins  move  as  compared  with  those  of  the 
sunfish?  Why  is  the  position  of  the  pectoral  and  dorsal  fins  of  benefit  to 
this  fish  ? 

12.  How  does  the  bullhead  inflict  wounds  when  it  is  handled?  Tell 
how  these  spines  protect  it  from  its  natural  enemies. 

13.  When  is  the  best  season  for  fishing  for  bullheads?  Does  the 
place  where  they  are  found  affect  the  flavor  of  their  flesh?     Why? 

14.  What  is  the  spawning  season?  Do  you  know  about  the  nests 
the  bullheads  build  and  the  care  they  give  their  young? 

15.  Write  an  essay  on  the  nest-making  habits  of  the  bullheads  and 
the  care  given  the  young  by  the  parents. 

"And  what  fish  will  the  natural  boy  naturally  take?  In  America,  there  is  but  one 
fish  which  enters  fully  into  the  spirit  of  the  occasion.  It  is  a  fish  of  many  species 
according  to  the  part  of  the  country,  and  of  as  many  sizes  as  there  are  sizes  of  boys. 
This  fish  is  the  horned  pout,  and  all  tlte  rest  of  the  species  of  Ameinrtis.  Horned  pout 
is  its  Boston  jiame.  Bullhead  is  good  enough  for  New  York;  and  for  the  rest  of  tl:e 
coiintry,  big  and  little,  all  the  fishes  of  this  tribe  are  called  catfish.  A  catfish  is  a  jolly 
blundering  sort  of  a  fish,  a  regular  Falstaff  of  the  ponds.  It  has  a  fat  jowl,  and  a  fat 
belly,  which  it  is  always  trying  to  fill.  Smooth  and  sleek,  its  skin  is  almost  human  in  its 
delicacy.  It  wears  a  long  mustache,  with  scattering  whiskers  of  other  sort.  Mean- 
while it  ahvays  goes  armed  with  a  stvord,  three  sivords,  and  these  it  has  always  on  hand, 
ahvays  ready  for  a  struggle  on  land  as  ivell  as  in  tJie  ivater.  The  small  boy  often  gets 
badly  stuck  on  these  poisoned  daggers,  but,  as  the  fish  knows  how  to  set  them  by  a  mus- 
cular twist,  the  small  boy  learns  how,  by  a  like  iintwist,  he  may  tinset  and  leave  them 

The  catfish  lives  in  sluggish  waters.  It  loves  the  millpond  best  of  all,  and  it  lias  no 
foolish  dread  of  hooks  when  it  goes  forth  to  bite.  Its  mouth  is  ivide.  It  swalloivs  the 
hook,  and  very  soon  it  is  in  the  air,  its  white  throat  gasping  in  tJic  ttntried  element.  Soon 
it  joins  its  felloivs  on  the  forked  stick,  and  even  then,  uncomfortable  as  it  may  find  its 
new  relations,  it  never  loses  sight  of  the  humor  of  the  occasion.  Its  large  head  and 
expansive  forehead  betoken  a  large  mind.  It  is  the  only  fish  whose  brain  contains  a 
Sylvian  fissure,  a  piling  up  of  tissue  consequent  on  the  abundance  of  gray  matter.  So 
it  understands  and  makes  no  complaint.  After  it  has  dried  in  the  sun  for  an  hour,  pour 
a  little  ivater  over  its  gills,  and  it  will  wag  its  tail,  and  squeak  with  gratitude.  And  the 
best  of  all  is,  there  are  horned  pouts  enough  to  go  around." 

"The  female  horned  pout  lays  thotisands  of  eggs,  and  when  these  hatch,  she  goes 
about  near  the  shore  with  her  school  of  little  fishes,  like  a  hen  with  myriad  chicks.  She 
should  be  respected  and  let  alone,  for  on  Jier  sticcess  in  rearing  this  breed  of  "bullying 
little  rangers'  depends  me  sport  of  the  small  boy  of  the  future." 

— David  Starr  Jordan,  in  Fish  Stories. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Fishing  for  suckers. 
Photo  by  Verne  Morton. 


Teacher's  Story 

'E  who  loves  to  peer  down  into  the  depths  of  still  waters,  often 
sees  upon  the  sandy,  muddy  or  rocky  bottom  several 
long,  wedge-shaped  sticks  lying  at  various  angles  one  to 
another.  But  if  he  thrust  down  a  real  stick,  behold,  these 
inert,  water-logged  sticks  move  off  deftly!  And  then  he 
knows  that  they  are  suckers.  He  may  drop  a  hook  baited 
with  a  worm  in  front  of  the  nose  of  one,  and  if  he  waits 
long  enough  before  he  pulls  up  he  may  catch  this  fish,  not  by  its  gills 
but  by  the  pit  of  its  stomach;  for  it  not  only  swallows' the  hook  com- 
pletely but  tries  to  digest  it  along  with  the  worm.  Its  food  is  made  up 
of  soft-bodied  insects  and  other  small  water  creatures;  it  is  also  a  mud 
eater  and  manages  to  make  a  digestive  selection  from  the  organic 
material  of  silt.  For  this  latter  reason,  it  is  not  a  desirable  food  fish 
although  its  flesh  varies  in  flavor  with  the  locality  where  it  is  found. 
The  suckers  taken  along  the  rocky  shores  of  Cayuga  Lake  are  fairly 
palatable,  while  those  taken  in  the  mud  of  the  Cayuga  Inlet  are  very  in- 
ferior in  flavor  and  often  uneatable. 

Seen  from  above,  the  sucker  is  wedge-shaped,  being  widest  at  the  eyes; 
seen  from  the  side  it  has  a  flat  lower  surface  and  an  ungracefully  rounded 
contour  above  which  tapers  only  slightly  toward  the  tail.  The  profile  of  the 
face  gives  the  impression  of  a  Roman  nose.  The  young  specimens  have 
an  irregular  scale-mosaic  pattern  of  olive-green  blotches  on  a  paler  ground 
color,  while  the  old  ones  are  quite  brown  above  and  on  the  sides.  The 
suckers  differ  from  most  other  fishes  in  having  the  markings  of  the  back 
extend  down  the  sides  almost  to  the  belly.  This  is  a  help  in  concealing 
the  fish,  since  its  sides  show  from  above  quite  as  distinctly  as  its  back 

Fish  Study  150^ 

because  of  its  peculiar  form.  The  scales  are  rather  large  and  are  notice- 
ably larger  behind  than  in  the  region  of  the  head.  Like  other  fish  it  is 
white  below. 

The  dorsal  fin  is  placed  about  midway  the  length  of  the  fish  as  measured 
from  nose  to  tail.  It  is  not  large  and  appears  to  have  twelve  rays,  but 
there  is  a  short  spine  in  front  and  a  delicate  soft  ray  behind  so  that  it 
really  has  fourteen.  The  tail  is  long  and  strong  and  deeply  notched: 
the  anal  fin  extends  back  to  where  the  tail  begins.  The  ventral  fins  are 
small  and  are  directly  opposite  the  hind  half  of  the  dorsal  fin.  The  pec- 
torals are  not  large  but  are  strong  and  are  placed  low  down.  The  sucker 
has  not  a  lavish  equipment  of  fins  but  its  tail  is  strong  and  it  can  swim 
swiftly;  it  is  also  a  tremendous  jumper;  it  will  jump  from  the  aquarium 
more  successfully  than  any  other  fish.  When  resting  on  the  bottom,  it  is 
supported  by  its  extended  pectoral  and  ventral  fins,  which  are  strong 
although  not  large. 

The  eyes  are  fairly  large  but  the  iris  is  not  shiny;  they  are  placed  so 
that  the  fish  can  easily  see  above  it  as  well  as  at  the  sides;  the  eyes 
move  so  as  to  look  up  or  down  and  are  very  well  adapted  to  serve  a  fish 
that  lives  upon  the  bottom.  The  nostrils  are  divided,  the  partition  pro- 
jecting until  it  seems  a  tubercle  on  the  face.  The  mouth  opens  below  and 
looks  like  the  puckered  opening  of  a  bag.  The  lips  are  thick  but  are  very 
sensitive;  it  is  by  projecting  these  lips,  in  a  way  that  reminds  one  of  a 
very  short  elephant's  trtmk,  that  it  is  enabled  to  reach  and  find  its  food 
in  the  mud  or  gravel;  so  although  the  sucker's  mouth  is  not  a  beautiful 
feature,  it  is  doubly  useful.  The  sucker  has  the  habit  of  remaining 
motionless  for  long  periods  of  time.  It  breathes  very  slowly  and  appears 
sluggish;  it  never  seizes  its  food  with  any  spirit  but  simply  slowly  en- 
gulfs it;  and  for  this  reason  it  is  considered  poor  game.  It  is  only  in  the 
spring  when  they  may  be  speared  through  the  ice  that  there  is  any  fun  in 
catching  suckers ;  it  is  at  this  season  of  the  year  that  they  move  to  shallow 
water  to  spawn;  those  in  the  lakes  move  to  the  rivers,  those  in  the  rivers 
to  the  creeks,  those  in  the  creeks  to  the  brooks.  Even  so  lowly  a  creature 
as  the  sucker  seems  to  respond  to  influences  of  the  springtime,  for  at  that 
period  the  male  has  a  faint  rosy  stripe  along  his  sides.  In  the  winter  these 
fish  burrow  in  the  mud  of  the  river  or  pond  bottoms;  they  may  be  frozen 
and  thawed  without  harming  them. 

There  are  many  species  of  suckers  and  they  vary  in  size  from  six 
inches  to  three  feet  in  length.  They  inhabit  all  sorts  of  waters,  but  they 
do  not  like  a  strong  current  and  are,  therefore,  found  in  still  pools.  The 
common  sucker  (Catostomiis  conimersoni) ,  which  is  the  subject  of  this 
esson,  sometimes  attains  the  length  of  twenty-two  inches  and  the  weight 
of  five  pounds.  The  ones  under  observation  were  about  eight  inches 
long,  and  proved  to  be  the  acrobats  of  the  aquarium,  since  they  were 
likely  at  any  moment  to  jump  out;  several  times  I  found  one  languishing 
on  the  floor. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


The  Commox  Sucker 

Leading  thought— The  sucker  is  especially  adapted  by  shape  for  lying 
on  the  bottom  of  ponds  under  still  water  where  its  food  is  abundant. 

MetJiod — If  still  water  pools  along  river  or  lakesides  are  accessible,  it  is 
far  more  interesting  to  study  a  sucker  in  its  native  haunts,  as  an  introduc- 
tion to  the  study  of  its  form  and  colors  when  it  is  in  the  aquarium. 

Observations — i.  Where  do  you  find  suckers?  How  do  you  catch 
them?     Do  they  take  the  hook  quickly?     What  is  the  natural  food  of  the 

su.clcGr  ? 

2.  What  is  the  shape  of  this  fish's  body  when  seen  from  above? 
From  the  side?  What  is  the  color  above?  On  the  sides?  Below?  Does 
the  sucker  differ  from  most  other  fishes  in  the  coloring  along  its  sides? 
What  is  the  reason  for  this?  What  do  suckers  look  like  on  the  bottom 
of  the  pond  ?     Are  they  easily  seen  ? 

3.  Describe  or  sketch  a  sucker,  showing  the  position,  size  and  shape 
of  the  fins  and  tail.  Are  its  scales  large  or  small?  How  does  it  use  its 
fins  when  at  rest?     When  moving?     Is  it  a  strong  swimmer?     Is  it  a  high 


4.  Describe  the  eyes;  how  are  they  especially  adapted  in  position 
and  in  movement  to  the  needs  of  a  fish  that  lives  on  the  bottom  of  streams 
and  ponds? 

5.  Note  the  nostrils;    what  is  there  peculiar  about  them? 

6.  Where  is  the  mouth  of  the  sucker  situated?  What  is  its  form ? 
How  is  it  adapted  to  get  the  food  which  the  sucker  likes  best? 

7.  Tell  all  you  know  about  the  habits  of  the  suckers.  When  do  you 
see  them  first  in  the  spring?  Where  do  they  spend  the  winter?  Where 
do  they  go  to  spawn?  How  large  is  the  largest  one  you  have  ever  seen? 
Why  is  their  flesh  usually  considered  poor  in  quality  as  food  ?  Is  there  a 
difference  in  the  flavor  of  its  flesh  depending  upon  the  locality  in  which 
the  fish  lives?     Why? 


The  common  sucker. 

Fisli  Study 


"I'm  only  wishing  to  go  a  fishing." 


Teacher's  Story 

"This  is  a  noteworthy  and  characteristic  lineament,  or  cipher,  or  hieroglyphic,  or 
type  of  spring.  Y'on  look  into  sonic  clear,  sandy  bottomed  brook  where  it  spreads  into  a 
deeper  bay,  yet  floiving  cold  from  ice  ajid  snow  not  far  off,  and  see  indistinctly  poised 
over  the  sand  on  invisible  fins,  the  oitt lines  of  the  shiner,  scarcely  to  be  distinguished 
from  the  sa)ids  behind  it  as  if  it  were  transparent." — Thoreau. 

HERE  are  many  species  of  shiners  and  it  is  by  no  means 
easy  to  recognize  them  nor  to  distinguish  them  from 
chub,  dace  and  minnows  since  all  these  belong  to  one 
family;  they  all  have  the  same  arrangement  of  fins  and 
live  in  the  same  water;  and  the  plan  of  this  lesson  can 
with  few  changes  be  applied  to  any  of  them. 

Never  were  seen  more  exquisite  colors  than  shim  mer 
along  the  sides  of  the  common  shiner  {Notropis  cor- 
nutus).  It  is  pale  olive-green  above,  just  a  sunny  brook-color,  this  is 
bordered  at  the  sides  by  a  line  of  iridescent  blue-purple,  while  the  shining 
silver  scales  on  the  sides  below,  flash  and  glimmer  with  the  changing  hues 
of  the  rainbow.  The  minnows  are  darker  than  the  shiners;  the  horned 
dace  develops  little  tubercles  on  the  head  during  the  breeding  season, 
which  are  lost  later. 

The  body  of  the  shiner  is  ideal  for  slipping  through  the  water.  Seen 
from  above  it  is  a  narrow  wedge,  rounded  in  front  and  tapering  to  a  point 
behind;  from  the  side,  it  is  long,  oval,  lance-shaped.     The  scales  are  large 


Hajuibook  of  Nature  Sttidy 

and  beautiful,  the  lateral  line  looks  like  a  series  of  dots  embroidered  at  the 
center  of  the  diamond-shaped  scales. 

The  dorsal  fin  is  placed  just  back  of  the  center  of  the  body  and  is  not 
very  large;  it  is  composed  of  soft  rays,  the  first  two  being  stiff  and  un- 
branched.  The  tail  is  long,  large,  graceful  and  deeply  notched.  The 
anal  fin  is  almost  as  large  as  the  dorsal.  The  ventral  pair  is  placed  on 
the  lower  side,  opposite  the  dorsal  fin ;  the  pectorals  are  set  at  the  lower 
margin  of  the  body,  just  behind  the  gill  openings.  The  shiner  and  its 
relatives  use  the  pectoral  fins  to  aid  in  swimming,  and  keep  them  constantly 
in  motion  when  moving  through  the  water.  The  ventrals  are  moved  only 
now  and  then  and  evidently  help  in  keeping  the  balance.  When  the  fish 
moves  rapidly  forward,  the  dorsal  fin  is  raised  so  that  its  front  edge  stands 
at  right  angles  to  the  body  and  the  ventral  and  anal  fins  are  expanded  to 
their  fullest  extent.  But  when  the  fish  is  lounging,  the  dorsal,  anal  and 
ventral  fins  are  more  or  less  closed,  although  the  tip  of  the  dorsal  fin  swings 
with  every  movement  of  the  fish. 

The  eyes  are  large,  the  pupils  being  very  large  and  black;  the  iris  is 
pale  yellow  and  shining;  the  whole  eye  is  capable  of  much  movement 
forward  and  back.  The  nostril  is  divided  by  a  little  projecting  partition 
which  looks  like  a  tubercle.  The  mouth  is  at  the  front  of  the  head;  to 
see  the  capabilities  of  this  mouth,  watch  the  shiner  yawn,  if  the  water  of 
the  aquarium  becomes  stale.  Poor  fellow!  He  yawns  just  as  we  do  in 
the  effort  to  get  more  oxygen. 

The  shiners  are  essentially  brook  fish  although  they  may  be  found  in 
larger  bodies  of  water.  They  lead  a  precarious  existence,  for  the  larger 
fish  eat  them  in  all  their  stages.  They  only  hold  their  own  by  laying 
countless  numbers  of  eggs.  They  feed  on  water  insects  and  get  even  with 
their  big  fish  enemies  by  eating  their  eggs.  They  are  pretty  and  graceful 
little  creatures  and  may  be  seen  swimming  up  the  current  in  the  middle  of 
the  brook.     They  often  occur  in  schools  or  flocks,  especially  when  young. 





The  coniiiwn  shiner. 

Fish  Study  163 

The  Shiner 

Leading  tJiought — The  shiners  are  among  the  most  common  of  the  Httle 
fish  in  our  small  streams.  They  are  beautiful  in  form  and  play  an 
important  part  in  the  life  of  our  streams. 

Method — Place  in  the  aquarium  shiners  and  as  many  as  possible  of  the 
other  species  of  small  fish  found  in  our  creeks  and  brooks.  The  aquarium 
should  stand  where  the  pupil  may  see  it  often.  The  following  questions 
may  be  asked,  giving  the  children  plenty  of  time  for  the  work  of  observa- 
tion : 

Observations — i.  Do  you  know  how  the  shiner  differs  in  appearance 
from  the  minnow  and  chub  and  dace  ? 

2.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  shiner's  body  when  seen  from  above? 
"When  seen  from  the  side?  Do  you  think  that  its  shape  fits  it  for  moving 
rapidly  through  the  water? 

3.  What  is  the  coloring  above?     On  the  sides?     Below? 

4.  Are  the  scales  large  and  distinct,  or  very  small?  Can  you  see  the 
lateral  line?  Where  are  the  tiny  holes,  which  make  this  line,  placed  in  the 
scales  ? 

5.  Describe  or  sketch  the  fish,  showing  position,  relative  size  and 
shape  of  all  the  fins  and  the  tail. 

6.  Describe  the  use  and  movements  of  each  of  the  fins  when  the  fish 
is  swimming. 

7.  Describe  the  eyes.     Do  they  move? 

8.  Describe  the  nostrils.     Do  you  think  each  one  is  double? 

9.  Does  the  mouth  open  upwards,  downwards  or  forwards?  Have 
you  ever  seen  the  shiner  yawn  ?     Why  does  it  yawn  ?     Why  do  you  yawn  ? 

10.  Where  do  you  find  the  shiners  living?  Do  they  haunt  the 
middle  of  the  strearn  or  the  edges?  Do  you  ever  see  them  in  flocksor 
schools  ? 


How  silent  comes  the  water  round  that  bend; 

Not  the  minutest  whisper  does  it  send 

To  the  o'er  hanging  sallows;   blades  of  grass 

Slowly  across  Uie  cliequer'd  shadows  pass. 

Why,  you  might  read  two  sonnets,  ere  they  reach 

To  ivhere  the  hurrying  freshnesses  aye  preach 

A  natural  sermon  o'er  their  pebbly  beds; 

Wliere  swarms  of  minnows  shoiu  their  little  heads. 

Staying  their  wavy  bodies  'gainst  the  streams, 

To  taste  the  luxury  of  sunny  beams 

Tempered  with  coolness.     How  they  ever  wrestle 

With  tlieir  own  sweet  delight,  and  ever  nestle 

Their  silver  bellies  on  the  pebbly  sand! 

If  you  but  scantily  hold  out  the  hand, 

That  very  instant  not  one  will  remain: 

But  turn  your  eye,  and  there  they  are  again. 

The  ripples  seem  right  glad  to  reach  those  cresses. 

And  cool  themselves  among  the  em'rald  tresses; 

Th'7  while  they  cool  themselves,  they  freshness  gjve. 

And  moisture,  that  tite  bowery  green  may  live. 

— JoHW  Keats. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

A  speckled  trout  on  a  orook  bottom. 
Photo  by  Vfrne  Morton. 


Teaclier's  Story 

"Up  and  down  the  brook  I  ran,  ivhcre  beneath  the  banks  so  steep, 
Lie  the  spotted  trout  asleep." — Whittier. 

UT  they  were  probably  not  asleep  as  Mr.  Whittier  might 
have  observed  if  he  had  cast  a  fly  near  one  of  them. 
There  is  in  the  very  haunts  of  the  trout,  a  suggestion  of 
where  it  gets  its  vigor  and  wariness:  The  cold,  clear 
streams  where  the  water  is  pure,  brooks  that  wind  in 
and  out  over  rocky  and  pebbly  beds,  here  shaded 
by  trees  and  there  dashing  through  the  open, — it  makes 
us  feel  vigorous  even  to  think  of  such  streams.  Under  the  overhanging 
bank  or  in  the  shade  of  some  fallen  log  or  shelving  rock,  the  brook  trout 
hides  where  he  may  see  all  that  goes  on  in  the  world  above  and  around 
him  without  being  himself  seen.  Woe  to  the  unfortunate  insect  that  falls 
upon  the  surface  of  the  water  in  his  vicinity  or  even  that  flies  low  over  the 
surface  for  the  trout  will  jump  easily  far  out  of  the  water  to  seize  its  prey ! 
It  is  this  habit  of  taking  the  insect  upon  and  above  the  water's  surface 
which  has  made  trout  fly-fishing  the  sport  that  it  is.  Man's  ingenuity  is 
fairly  matched  against  the  trout's  cunning  in  this  contest.  I  know  of  one 
old  trout  that  has  kept  fishermen  in  the  region  around  on  the  qui  vive  for 
years;  and  up  to  date  he  is  still  alive,  making  a  dash  now  and  then  at  a 
tempting  bait,  showing  himself  enough  to  tantalize  his  would-be  captors 
with  his  splendid  size,  but  always  retiring  at  the  sight  of  the  line. 

The  brook  trout  varies  much  in  color,  depending  upon  the  soil  and  the 
rocks  of  the  streams  in  which  it  lives.  Its  back  is  marbled  with  dark 
olive  or  black,  making  it  just  the  color  of  shaded  water.  This  marbled 
coloration  also  marks  the  dorsal  and  the  tail  fins.  The  sides,  which  vary 
much  in  color,  are  marked  with  beautiful  vermilion  spots,  each  placed  in 
the  center  of  a  larger,  brownish  spot.    In  some  instances  the  lower  surface 

Fish   Study 


is  reddish,  in  others  whitish.  All  the  fin?  on  the  lower  side  of  the  body 
have  the  Iront  edges  creamy  or  yellowish  white,  with  a  darker  streak 

The  trout's  head  is  quite  large  and  somewhat  blunt  The  large  eye  is 
a  little  in  front  of  the  middle  of  the  head.  The  dorsal  fm  is  at  about  the 
middle  of  the  body,  and  when  raised  is  squarish  in  outline.  Behind  the 
dorsal  fin,  and  near  to  the  tail  is  the  little,  fleshy  adipose  fin,  so  called 
because  it  has  no  rays  The  tail  is  fan-shaped,  slightly  notched  at  the  end 
and  is  large  and  strong.  The  anal  fin  is  rather  large,  being  shaped  much 
like  the  dorsal  fin,  only  slightly  smaller.  The  ventral  fins  are  directly 
below  the  dorsal  fin  and  a  little  behind  its  middle.  The  pectorak  are 
low  down,  being  below  and  just  behind  the  gill  arches. 

Where  the  trout  htde. 

In  size  the  brook  trout  seldom  is  longer  than  "^even  or  eight  inches,  but 
in  the  rivers  of  the  Northeastern  United  States  specimens  weighing  from 
six  to  eleven  pounds  are  sometimes  taken.  It  does  not  flourish  in  water 
which  is  warmer  than  68°,  but  prefers  a  temperature  of  about  50°.  It 
must  have  the  pure  water  of  mountain  streams  and  cannot  endure  water 
of  rivers  which  is  polluted  by  mills  or  the  refuse  of  cities.  Where  it  has 
access  to  streams  that  flow  into  the  ocean,  it  torms  the  salt  water  habit, 
going  out  to  sea  and  remaining  there  durmg  the  winter.  Such  specimens 
become  very  large. 

The  trout  can  lay  eggs  when  about  six  inches  in  length.  The  eggs  are 
laid  from.  September  until  late  November,  although,  as  Mr.  Bream  says, 
the  brook  trout  are  spawned  at  some  locality  in  almost  every  month  of  the 
year  except  mid-summer  One  mother  trout  lays  from  400  to  600  eggs, 
but  the  large-sized  ones  Jay  more.  The  period  of  hatching  depends  upon 
the  temperature  of  the  water  In  depositing  their  eggs  the  trout  seek 
wat&r  with  gravelly  bottom,  often  where  some  mountain  brook  opens  into 

1 66  Handbook  of  Nature -Study 

a  larger  stream.  The  nest  is  shaped  by  the  tail  of  the  fish,  the  larger 
stones  being  carried  away  in  the  mouth.  To  make  the  precious  eggs 
secure  they  are  covered  with  gravel. 

There  have  been  strict  laws  enacted  by  almost  all  of  our  states  with 
a  view  to  protecting  the  brook  trout  and  preserving  it  in  our  streams 
The  open  season  in  New  York  is  from  the  15th  of  April  to  the  ist  of  Sep- 
tember, and  it  is  illegal  to  take  from  a  stream  a  fish  that  is  less  than  five 
inches  in  length.  It  is  the  duty  of  every  decent  citizen  to  abide  by  these 
laws  and  to  see  to  it  that  his  neighbors  observe  them.  The  teacher  cannot 
emphasize  enough  upon  the  child  the  moral  value  of  being  law-abiding. 
There  should  be  in  every  school  in  the  Union  children's  clubs  which  should 
have  for  their  purpose  civic  honesty  and  the  enforcement  of  laws  which 
affect  the  city,  village  or  township. 

Almost  any  stream  with  suitable  water  may  be  stocked  with  trout  from 
the  national  or  the  state  hatcheries,  but  what  is  the  use  of  this  expense  if 
the  game  laws  are  not  observed  and  these  fish  are  caught  before  they  reach 
maturity,  as  is  so  often  the  case? 

References — American  Food  and  Game  Fishes.  Jordan  &  Everman; 
Guide  to  American  Fishes,  Jordan. 

The  Brook  Trout 

Leading  thougJit — The  brook  trout  have  been  exterminated  in  our 
streams  largely  because  the  game  laws  have  not  been  observed.  The 
trout  is  the  most  cunning  and  beautiful  of  our  common  fishes  and  the  most 
valuable  for  food.  If  properly  guarded,  every  pure  mountain  stream  in 
our  country,  could  be  well  stocked  with  the  brook  trout. 

Method — A  trout  may  be  kept  in  an  aquarium  of  flowing  water  in- 
definitely and  should  be  fed  upon  liver  and  hard  clams  chopped.  If  there 
is  no  aquarium  with  running  water,  the  trout  may  be  kept  in  an  ordinary 
jar  long  enough  for  this  lesson.  The  object  of  this  lesson  should  be  not 
only  the  study  of  the  habits  of  the  fish,  but  also  a  lesson  in  its  preserva- 

Observations — i.  In  what  streams  are  the  brook  trout  found? 
Must  the  water  be  warm  or  cold?  Can  tlie  trout  live  in  impure  water? 
Can  it  live  in  salt  water? 

2.  Do  the  trout  swim  about  in  schools  or  do  they  live  solitary? 
Where  do  they  like  to  hide? 

3.  With  what  kind  of  bait  is  trout  caught?  Why  does  it  afford 
such  excellent  sport  for  fly-fishing?  Can  you  tell  what  the  food  of  the 
trout  is .'' 

4.  What  is  the  color  of  the  trout  above?  What  colors  along  its 
sides?  What  markings  make  the  fish  so  beautiful?  What  is  its  color 
below  ?     Has  the  trout  scales  ?     Do  you  see  the  lateral  line  ? 

5.  What  is  the  general  shape  of  the  brook  trout?  Describe  the 
shape,  position  and  color  of  the  dorsal  fin.  Describe  the  little  fin  behind 
the  dorsal.  Why  is  it  unlike  the  other  fins?  What  is  the  shape  of  the 
tail  fin?  Is  it  rounded,  square  or  crescent-shaped  across  the  end?  What 
is  the  position  and  size  of  the  anal  fin  compared  with  the  dorsal?  What 
colors  on  the  ventral  fins  and  where  are  they  placed  in  relation  to  the 

Fish  Study  167 

dorsal  fin?     What  color  are  the  pectoral  fins  and  how  are  they  placed  in 
relation  to  the  gill  arches? 

6.  Describe  the  trout's  eyes.  Are  they  large  and  alert?  Do  you 
think  the  trout  is  keen-sighted? 

7.  When  and  where  are  the  eggs  laid?  Describe  how  the  nest  is 
made.     How  are  the  eggs  covered  and  protected  ? 

8.  Why  are  there  no  trout  in  the  streams  of  your  neighborhood? 
Could  a  trout  live  in  these  streams?  Can  you  get  state  aid  in  stocking  the 

9.  What  are  the  game  laws  concerning  trout  fishing?  When  is  the 
open  season?  How  long  must  the  trout  be  to  be  taken  legally?  If  you 
are  a  good  citizen  what  do  you  do  about  the  game  laws? 

10.  Write  a  story  telling  all  you  know  about  the  wariness,  cunning 
and  strength  of  the  brook  trout. 

Supplementary  reading — The  following  from  Fish  Stories  by  Holder 
and  Jordan:  "The  Trout  of  Los  Latirelles,"  "The  Golden  Trout  of  the 
High  Sierras;"  "The  Lure  of  the  Rainbow."  "The  Story  of  the  Salmon"  in 
Science  Sketches,  "  The  Master  of  the  Golden  Pool"  in  Watchers  of  the 
Trails,  The  Story  of  the  Fishes,  Baskett,  Neighbors  with  Wings  and 
Fins,  Johonnet. 


"It  is  well  for  anglers  not  to  make  trout,  of  all  fishes,  the  prime  objective  of  a  day's 
sport,  as  no  more  uncertain  game  loves  the  sunlight.  Today  he  is  yours  for  the  very 
asking,  tomorrow,  the  most  luscious  lure  will  not  tempt  him.  One  hour  he  defies  you, 
the  next,  gazes  at  you  from  some  ensconcement  of  the  fishes,  and  knows  you  not,  as  yon 
pass  him,  casting,  by. 

I  believe  I  accumulated  some  of  this  angling  wisdom  years  ago,  in  a  certain  trout 
domain  in  New  England,  where  there  were  streams  and  pools,  ripples,  cascades  and 
drooping  trees,  where  everything  was  fair  and  promising  to  the  eyes  for  trout;  but  it 
required  superhuman  patience  to  lure  them,  and  many  a  day  I  scored  a  blank  Y'ct  on 
these  very  days  when  lures  ^vere  unavailing,  the  creel  empty  save  for  fern  leaves,  I  found 
they  were  not  for  naught,  that  the  real  fishing  day  ivas  a  composite  of  the  weather,  the 
wind,  even  if  it  was  from  the  east,  the  splendid  colors  of  forest  trees,  the  blue  tourinaiine 
of  the  sky  that  topped  the  stream  amid  the  trees,  the  flecks  of  cloud  mirrored  on  the  sur- 
face. The  delight  of  anticipation,  the  casting,  the  play  of  the  rod,  the  exercise  of  skill,  the 
quick  turns  in  the  steam  opening  up  new  mstas,  tJie  little  openings  in  the  forest,  through 
which  were  seen  distant  nieadoivs  and  nodding  flowers — all  these  went  to  make  up  the  real 
trout  fishing,  the  actual  catch  being  but  an  incident  among  many  delights. 

Just  how  long  one  could  be  content  with  mere  scenery  in  lieu  of  trout,  I  am  not  pre- 
pared to  say,  if  pushed  to  the  wall,  I  confess  that  when  fishing  I  prefer  trout  to  scenic 
effects.  Still,  it  is  a  very  impracticable  and  delightful  sentiment  with  some  truth  to  it, 
the  moral  being  that  the  angler  should  be  resourceful,  and  not  be  entirely  cast  down  on  the 
days  when  the  wind  is  in  the  east 

I  am  aware  that  this  method  of  angling  is  not  in  vogue  with  some,  and  would  he 
deemed  fanciful,  indeed  inane,  by  many  more;  yet  it  is  based  upon  a  true  and  homely 
philosophy,  not  of  today,  the  philosophy  of  patience  and  contentment.  "How  poor  are 
they  that  have  not  patience,"  said  Othello.  It  is  ivell  to  be  content  ivith  things  as  we  f.nd 
them,  and  it  is  well  to  go  a-fishing,  not  to  catch  fish  alone,  but  roery  offering  the  day  lias 
to  give  This  should  be  an  easy  matter  for  the  angler,  as  Walton  tells  us  that  A  ngling  is 
somewhat  like  poetry,  men  are  to  be  born  so 

— Fish  Stories,  Jordan  and  Holder. 


Handbook  of  N ature-Stttdy 

Stickleback  guarding  his  nest. 
Drawn  from  nature. 


Teacher's  Story 

THIS  is  certainly  the  most  sagacious  of  the 
Lilliputian  vertebrates;  scarcely  more 
than  an  inch  in  length  when  full-grown,  it 
gazes  at  you  with  large,  keen,  shining- 
rimmed  eyes,  takes  your  measure  and 
darts  off  with  a  flirt  of  the  tail  that  says 
plainly,  "Catch  me  if  you  can."  The 
sticklebacks  are  delightful  aquarium  pets 
because  their  natural  home  is  in  still 
water  sufflcientl}^  stagnant  for  algse  to 
grow  luxuriously;  thus  we  but  seldom 
need  to  change  the  water  in  the  aquari- 
um, which,  however,  should  be  well 
stocked  with  water  plants  and  have  gravel 
at  the  bottom. 

When  the  stickleback  is  not  resting  he 
is  always  going  somewhere  and  he 
knows  just  where  he  is  going  and  what  he 
is  going  to  do,  and  earthquakes  shall  not 
deter  him.  He  is  the  most  dynamic 
creature  in  all  creation,  I  think,  except  perhaps  the  dragon  fly,  and 
he  is  so  ferocious  that  if  he  were  as  large  as  a  shark  he  would  destroy  all 
other  fishes.  Place  an  earthworm,  cut  into  small  sections,  in  the  aquari- 
um and  while  each  section  is  wriggingly  considering  whether  it  may  be 
able  to  grow  both  ends  into  another  worm ,  the  stickleback  takes  hold 
with  a  will  and  settles  the  matter  in  the  negative.  His  ferocity  is 
frightful  to  behold  as  he  seizes  his  prey  and  shakes  it  as  a  terrier  does  a  rat. 
Well  is  this  fish  named  stickleback,  for  along  the  ridge  of  its  back  are 
sharp,  strong  spines— five  of  them  in  our  tiny,  brook  species.  These 
spines  may  be  laid  back  flat  or  they  may  be  erected  stiffly,  making  an 
efficient  saw  which  does  great  damage  to  fish  many  times  larger  than  the 
stickleback.  When  we  find  the  minnows  in  the  aquarium  losing  their 
scales  we  may  be  sure  they  are  being  raked  off  by  this  saw-back ;  and  if 
the  shiner  or  sunfish  undertakes  to  make  a  stickleback  meal,  there  is 
only  one  way  to  do  it,  and  that  is  to  catch  the  quarry  by  the  tail,  since  he  is 
too  alert  to  be  caught  in  any  other  way.  But  swallowing  a  stickleback 
tail  first  is  a  dangerous  performance,  for  the  sharp  spines  rip  open  the 
throat  or  stomach  of  the  captor.  Dr.  Jordan  says  that  the  sticklebacks 
of  the  Puget  Sound  region  are  called  "salmon  killers"  and  that  they  well 
earn  the  name;  these  fierce  midgets  unhesitatingly  attack  the  salmon, 
biting  off  pieces  of  their  fins  and  also  destroying  their  spawn. 

As  seen  from  the  side,  the  stickleback  is  slender  and  graceful,  pointed 
like  an  arrow  at  the  front  end,  and  with  the  body  behind  the  dorsal  fin 
forming  a  long  and  slender  pedicel  to  support  the  beautifully  rounded  tail 
fin.  The  dorsal  fin  is  placed  well  back  and  is  triangular  in  shape;  the 
anal  fin  makes  a  similar  triangle  opposite  it  below  and  has  a  sharp  spine 
at  its  front  edge.  The  color  of  the  body  varies  with  the  light;  when 
floating  among  the  water  weed  the  back  is  greenish  mottled  with  paler 
green,  but  when  the  fish  is  down  on  the  gravel  it  is  much  darker.  The 
lateral  line  is  marked  by  a  rather  broad  silver  stripe. 

Fisli  Sliidy  169 

If  large  eyes  count  for  beauty,  then  the  stickleback  deserves  "the 
apple,"  for  its  eyes  are  not  only  large  but  gemlike,  with  a  broad  iris  of 
golden  brown  around  the  black  pupil.  I  am  convinced  that  the  stickle- 
back has  a  keener  vision  than  most  fish;  it  can  move  its  eyes  backward 
and  forward  rapidly  and  alertly.  The  mouth  opens  almost  upward  and 
is  a  wicked  little  mouth,  both  in  appearance  and  action. 

When  swimming,  the  stickleback  darts  about  rapidly,  its  dorsal  and 
anal  fins  extended,  its  spines  all  abristle,  its  tail  lashing  the  water  with 
strong  strokes  and  the  pectorals  flying  so  fast  that  they  make  a  blur;  the 
ventral  fins  are  rarely  extended,  in  fact  they  are  nothing  but  two  little 
spines.  When  the  fish  wishes  to  lift  itself  through  the  water  it  seems  to 
depend  entirely  upon  its  pectoral  fins  and  these  are  also  used  for  balanc- 
ing. Its  favorite  position  is  hanging  motionless  among  the  pond  weeds, 
with  the  tail,  the  dorsal  and  ventral  fins  partially  closed;  it  usually  rests 
upon  the  pectoral  fins  which  are  braced  against  some  stem ;  in  one  case  I 
saw  the  ventrals  and  pectorals  used  together  to  clasp  a  stem  and  hold  the 
fish  in  place.  In  moving  backward  the  pectorals  do  the  work,  with  a 
little  beckoning  motion  of  the  tail  occasionally.  When  resting  upon  the 
bottom  of  the  aquarium,  it  closes  its  fins  and  makes  itself  quite  incon- 
spicuous. It  can  dig  with  much  power  accomplishing  this  by  a  comical 
augerlike  motion;  it  plunges  head  first  into  the  gravel  and  then  by 
twisting  the  body  and  tail  around  and  around,  it  soon  forms  a  hiding 

But  it  is  as  a  house  builder  and  father  and  home  protector  that  the 
stickleback  shines.  In  the  early  spring  he  builds  him  a  nest  made  from 
the  fine  green  algae  called  frog-spittle.  This  would  seem  a  too  delicate 
material  for  the  house  construction,  but  he  is  a  clever  builder.  He  fastens 
his  filmy  walls  to  some  stems  of  reed  or  grass,  using  as  a  platform 
a  supporting  stem;  the  ones  which  I  have  especially  studied  were  fastened 
to  grass  stems.  The  stickleback  has  a  little  cement  plant  of  his  own,  sup- 
posed to  be  situated  in  the  kidneys,  which  at  this  time  of  year  secrete  the 
glue  for  building  purposes.  The  glue  is  waterproof.  It  is  spun  out  in 
fine  threads  or  in  filmy  masses  through  an  opening  near  the  anal  fin. 
One  species  weights  his  platform  with  sand  which  he  scoops  up  from  the 
bottom,  but  I  cannot  detect  that  our  brook  stickleback  does  this.  In  his 
case,  home  is  his  sphere  literally,  for  he  builds  a  spherical  house  about  the 
size  of  a  glass  marble,  three-c^uarters  of  an  inch  in  diameter;  it  is  a  hollow 
sphere  and  he  cements  the  inside  walls  so  as  to  hold  them  back  and  give 
room,  and  he  finishes  his  pretty  structure  with  a  circular  door  at  the  side. 
When  finished,  the  nest  is  like  a  bubble,  made  of  threads  of  down  and  yet 
it  holds  together  strongly. 

In  the  case  of  the  best  known  species,  the  male,  as  soon  as  he  has 
finished  his  bower  to  his  satisfaction,  goes  a- wooing;  he  selects  some  lady 
stickleback,  and  in  his  own  way  tells  her  of  the  beautiful  nest  he  has  made 
and  convinces  her  of  his  ability  to  take  care  of  a  family.  He  certainly  has 
fetching  ways  for  he  soon  conducts  her  to  his  home.  She  enters  the  nest 
through  the  little  circular  door,  lays  her  eggs  within  it,  and  then  being  a 
flighty  creature,  she  sheds  responsibilities  and  flits  off  care  free.  He 
follows  her  into  the  nest,  scatters  the  fertilizing  milt  over  the  eggs  and 
then  starts  off  again  and  rolls  his  golden  eyes  on  some  other  lady  stickle- 
back and  invites  her  also  to  his  home;  she  comes  without  any  jealousy 
because  she  was  not  first  choice,  and  she  also  enters  the  nest  and  lays  her 


Handbook  of  N ature-Stvidy 

eggs  and  then  swims  off  unconcernedly.  Again  he  enters  the  nest  and 
drops  more  milt  upon  the  eggs  and  then  fares  forth  again,  a  still  energetic 
wooer.  If  there  was  ever  a  justified  polygamist,  he  is  one,  since  it  is  only 
the  cares  and  responsibihties  of  the  home  that  he  desires.  He  only  stops 
wooing  when  his  nest  holds  as  many  eggs  as  he  feels  equal  to  caring  for. 
He  now  stands  on  guard  by  the  door,  and  with  his  winnowing  pectoral 
fins,  sets  up  a  current  of  water  over  the  eggs;  he  drives  off  all  intruders 
with  the  most  vicious  attacks,  and  keeps  off  many  an  enemy  simply  by 
a  display  of  reckless  fury;  thus  he  stands  guard  until  the  eggs  hatch  and 
the  tiny  little  sticklebacks  come  out  of  the  nest  and  float  off,  attaching 
themselves  by  their  mouths  to  the  pond  weeds  until  they  become  strong 
enough  to  scurry  around  in  the  water. 

Some  species  arrange  two 
doors  in  this  spherical  nest 
so  that  a  current  of  water 
can  flow  through  and  over 
the  eggs.  Mr.  Eugene  Bark- 
er, who  has  made  a  special 
study  of  the  little  five- 
spined  sticklebacks  of  the 
Cayuga  Basin,  has  failed  to 
find  more  than  one  door  to 
their  nests.  Mr.  Barker 
made  a  most  interesting  ob- 
servation on  this  stickle- 
back's obsession  for  father- 
hood. He  placed  in  the 
aquarium  two  nests,  one  of 
which  was  guarded  by  its 
loyal  builder,  which  allowed 
himself  to  be  caught  rather 
than  desert  his  post;  the 
little  guardian  soon  dis- 
covered the  unprotected  nest  and  began  to  move  the  eggs  from  it  to 
his  own,  carrying  them  carefully  in  his  mouth.  This  addition  made  his 
own  nest  so  full  that  the  eggs  persistently  crowded  out  of  the  door,  and 
he  spent  much  of  his  time  nudging  them  back  with  his  snout.  We  saw 
this  stickleback  fill  his  mouth  with  algas  from  the  bottom  of  the 
aquarium,  and  holding  himself  steady  a  short  distance  away,  apparent- 
ly blow  the  algae  at  the  nest  from  a  distance  of  half  an  inch,  and  we 
wondered  if  this  was  his  method  of  laying  on  his  building  materials 
before  he  cemented  them. 

The  eggs  of  this  species  are  white  and  shining  like  minute  pearls,  and 
seem  to  be  fastened  together  in  small  packages  with  gelatinous  m.atter. 
The  mating  habits  of  this  species  have  not  been  thoroughly  studied ;  there- 
fore, here  is  an  opportunity  for  investigation  on  the  part  of  the  boys  and 

The  five-spined  stickleback  and  his  nest. 
Photo  by  Eugene  Barker. 

FisJi  Stiddy  171 


The  Stickleback 

Leading  thought — The  stickleback  is  the  smallest  of  our  common  fish. 
It  lives  in  stagnant  water.  The  father  stickleback  builds  his  pretty  nest 
of  frog-spittle  which  he  watches  very  carefully. 

Method — To  find  sticklebacks  go  to  a  pond  of  stagnant  water  which 
does  not  dry  up  during  the  year.  If  it  is  partly  shaded  by  bushes  so  much 
the  better.  Take  a  dip  net  and  dip  deeply ;  carefully  examine  all  the  little 
fish  in  the  net  by  putting  them  in  a  Mason  jar  of  water  so  that  you  can  see 
what  they  are  like.  The  stickleback  is  easily  distinguished  by  the  five 
spines  along  its  back.  If  you  collect  these  fish  as  early  as  the  first  of  May 
and  place  several  of  them  in  the  aquarium  with  plenty  of  the  algae  known 
as  frog-spittle  and  other  water  plants  they  may  perhaps  build  a  nest  for 
you.  They  may  be  fed  upon  bits  of  meat  or  liver  chopped  very  fine  or 
upon  earthworms  cut  into  small  sections. 

Observations — i.  How  did  the  stickleback  get  its  name?  How 
many  spines  has  it?  AVhere  are  they  situated?  Are  they  always  carried 
erect?  How  are  these  spines  used  as  weapons?  How  do  they  act  as  a 
means  of  safety  to  the  stickleback? 

2.  Describe  or  make  a  sketch  showing  the  shape  and  position  of  the 
dorsal,  the  anal,  the  ventral  and  the  pectoral  fins.  What  is  the  shape  of 
the  tail?     What  is  the  general  shape  of  the  fish? 

3.  What  is  the  color  of  the  sticklebacks?  Is  the  color  always  the 
same?     What  is  the  color  and  position  of  the  lateral  line? 

4.  Describe  the  eyes.  Are  they  large  or  small?  Can  they  be 
moved?     Do  you  think  they  can  see  far? 

5.  Describe  the  mouth.  Does  it  open  upward,  straight  ahead  or 
downward  ? 

6.  When  the  stickleback  is  swimming  what  are  the  positions  and 
motions  of  the  dorsal,  anal,  tail  and  pectoral  fins?  Can  you  see  the 
ventral  pair?     Are  they  extended  when  the  fish  is  swimming? 

7.  When  resting  among  the  pond  weed  of  the  aquarium  what  fins 
does  the  stickleback  use  for  keeping  afloat?  How  are  the  other  fins  held? 
What  fins  does  it  use  to  move  backward?  Which  ones  are  used  when  it 
lifts  itself  from  the  bottom  to  the  top  of  the  aquarium  ?  How  are  its  fins 
placed  when  it  is  at  rest  on  the  bottom? 

8.  Drop  a  piece  of  earthworm  or  some  liver  or  fresh  meat  cut  finely 
into  the  aquarium  and  describe  the  action  of  the  sticklebacks  as  they  eat 
it.     How  large  is  a  full-groum  stickleback? 

9.  In  what  kind  of  ponds  do  we  find  sticklebacks?  Do  3^ou  know 
how  the  stickleback  nest  looks?  Of  what  is  it  built?  How  is  it  sup- 
ported? Is  there  one  door  or  two?  Does  the  father  or  mother  stickle- 
back build  the  nest?  Are  the  young  in  the  nest  cared  for?  At  what 
time  is  the  nest  built? 

Supplementary  reading — Fish-stories,  Chap.  XXXVI,  Jordan  and 


Handbook  of  N aiurc -Study 

The  sunfish  likes  quiet  waters  for  nesting. 


Teacher's  Story 

HIS  little  disc  of  gay  color  has  won  many  popular  names. 
It  is  called  pumpkin  seed,  tobacco  box  and  sunfish 
because  of  its  shape,  and  it  is  also  called  bream  and 
pond  fish  I  have  always  wondered  that  it  was  not 
called  chieftain  also,  for  when  it  raises  its  dorsal  fin 
with  its  saw  crest  of  spines,  it  looks  like  the  head-dress 
of  an  Indian  chief;  and  surely  no  warrior  ever  had  a 
greater  enjoyment  in  a  battle  than  does  this  indom- 
itable little  fish. 

The  sunfish  lives  in  the  eddies  of  our  clear  brooks  and  ponds.  It  is  a 
near  relative  to  the  rock  bass  and  also  of  the  black  bass  and  it  has,  accord- 
ing to  its  size,  just  as  gamey  qualities  as  the  latter.  I  once  had  a  sunfish 
on  my  line  which  made  me  think  I  had  caught  a  bass  and  I  do  not  know 
whether  I  or  the  mad  little  pumpkin  seed  was  the  most  disgusted  when  I 
discovered  the  truth.  I  threw  him  back  in  the  water  but  his  fighting 
spirit  was  up,  and  he  grabbed  my  hook  again  within  five  minutes,  which 
showed  that  he  had  more  courage  than  wisdom ;  it  would  have  served  him 
right  if  I  had  fried  him  in  a  pan,  but  I  never  could  make  up  my  mind  to 
kill  a  fish  for  the  sake  of  one  mouthful  of  food. 

Perhaps  of  all  its  names,,  "pumpkin  seed"  is  the  most  graphic,  for  it 
resembles  this  seed  in  the  outlines  of  its  body  when  seen  from  the  side. 
Looked  at  from  above,  it  has  the  shape  of  a  powerful  craft  with  smooth. 

Fish  Study 


rounded  nose  and  gently  swelling  and  tapering  sides;  it  is  widest  at  the 
eyes  and  this  is  a  canny  arrangement,  for  these  great  eyes  turn  alertly  in 
every  direction;  and  thus  placed  they  are  able  to  discern  the  enemy  or 
the  dinner  coming  from  any  quarter. 

The  dorsal  fin  is  a  most  militant  looking  organ.  It  consists  of  ten 
Spines,  the  hind  one  closely  joined  to  the  hind  dorsal  fin,  which  is  sup- 
ported by  the  soft  rays.  The  three  front  spines  rise  successively,  one 
above  another  and  all  are  imited  by  the  membrane,  the  upper  edge  of 
which  is  deeply  toothed.  The  hind  dorsal  fin  is  gracefully  rounded  and 
the  front  and  hind  fin  wo^k  independently  of  each  other,  the  latter  often 
winnowing  the  water  when  the  former  is  laid  flat.  The  tail  is  strong  and 
has  a  notch  in  the  end ;  the  anal  fin  has  three  spines  on  its  front  edge  and 


,  C-a 






The  pumpkin  seed,  the  most  com-m-on  siinfish. 

ten  soft  rays.  Each  ventral  fin  also  has  a  spine  at  the  front  edge  and  is 
placed  below  and  slightly  behind  the  pectorals.  The  pectoral  fins,  I  have 
often  thought,  were  the  most  exquisite  and  gauzelike  in  texture  of  any 
fins  I  have  ever  seen;  they  are  kept  almost  constantly  in  motion  and 
move  in  such  graceful  flowing  undulations  that  it  is  a  joy  to  look  at  them. 
The  eye  of  the  sunfish  is  very  large  and  quite  prominent;  the  large 
black  pupil  is  surrounded  by  an  iris  that  has  shining  lavender  and  bronze 
in  it,  but  is  more  or  less  clouded  above;  the  young  ones  have  a  pale  silver 
iris.  The  eyes  move  in  every  direction  and  are  eager  and  alert  in  their 
expression.  The  mouth  is  at  the  front  of  the  body  but  it  opens  upward. 
The  gill  opening  is  prolonged  backward  at  the  upper  comer,  making  an 
earlike  flap;  this,  of  course,  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  fish's  ears,  but  it  is 
highly  ornamental  as  it  is  greenish-black  in  color,  bordered  by  iridescent, 
pale  green,  with  a  brilliant  orange  spot  on  its  hind  edge.  The  colors  of 
the  sunfish  are  too  varied  for  description  and  too  beautiful  to  reduce  to 
mere  words.  There  are  dark,  dull,  greenish  or  purplish  cross-bands 
worked  out  in  patterns  of  scale-mosaic,  and  between  them  are  bands  of 
pale  iridescent-green,  set  with  black-edged  orange  spots.     But  just  as  we 


Hajidbook  of  Nature-Study 

have  described  his  colors  our  sunfish  darts  off  arxd  aJl  sortr.  of  shimmering, 
shining  blue,  green  and  purple  tmts  play  over  his  body  and  he  settles  down 
into  another  comer  of  the  aquarium  and  his  colors  seem  much  paler  and 
we  have  to  describe  him  over  again.     The  body  below  is  brassy-yellow. 

The  beautiful  colors  which  the  male  '^unfish  dons  m  spnng,  he  puts  at 
once  to  practical  use.  Professor  Reighard  says  ihat  when  courting  and 
crying  to  persuade  his  chosen  one  to  come  to  his  nest  and  there  deposit 
her  eggs,  he  faces  her,  with  his  gill  covers  puffed  out,  the  scarlet  or  orange 
spot  on  the  ear- flap  standing  out  bravely,  and  his  black  ventral  fins  spread 
v/ide  to  show  off  Lheir  patent-leather  finish.  Thus,  does  he  display  him- 
self before  her  and  persuade  her,  but  he  is  rarely  allowed  to  do  this  in 
peace.  Other  males  as  brilliant  as  he  arrive  on  the  scene  and  he  must 
forsooth  stop  parading  before  his  lady  love  in  order  to  fight  his  rival,  and 

Male  of  the  sunfish  guarding  his  nat. 
After  GUI 

he  fights  with  as  murh  display  of  color  as  ho  courts.  But  in  the  sunfish 
duel  the  participants  do  not  seek  to  destroy  each  other  but  to  mutilate 
spitefully  each  other's  fins.  The  vanquished  one  with  his  fins  all  torn  retires 
from  the  field.  Professor  Gill  says .  "Meanwhile  the  male  has  selected  a 
spot  in  very  shallow  water  near  the  shore,  and  generally  in  a  mass  of 
aquatic  vegetation  not  too  large  or  close  together  to  entirely  exclude  the 
light  and  heat  of  the  sun.  and  mostly  under  an  over-hanging  plant.  The 
choice  15  apt  to  be  in  some  general  strip  of  shallow  water  close  by  the  shore 
which  is  favored  by  many  others  so  that  a  number  of  similar  nests  may 
be  found  close  together,  although  never  encroaching  on  each  other. 
Each  fish  slightly  excavates  and  makes  a  saucer-like  basin  in  the  chosen 
area  which  is  carefully  cleared  of  all  pebbles.  Such  are  removed  by 
violent  jerks  of  the  caudal  fin  or  are  taken  up  by  the  mouth  and  carried  to 
the  circular  boundary  of  the  nest.  An  area  of  fine,  clean  sand  or  gravel  is 
generally  the  result,  but  not  infrequently,  according  to  Dr.  Reighard,  the 

Fish  Study  175 

nest  bottom  is  composed  of  the  rootlets  of  water  plants.  The  nest  has 
a  diameter  of  about  twice  the  length  of  the  fish." 

On  the  nest  thus  fonncd,  the  sunfish  belle  is  invited  to  deposit  her 
eggs,  which  as  soon  as  laid  fall  to  the  bottom  and  become  attached 
to  the  gravel  at  the  bottom  of  the  nest  by  the  viscid  substance 
which  surrounds  them.  Her  duty  is  then  done  and  she  departs, 
leaving  the  master  in  charge  of  his  home  and  the  eggs.  If  truth  be  told, 
he  is  not  a  strict  monogamist.  Professor  Reighard  noticed  one  of  these 
males  which  reared  in  one  nest  two  broods  laid  at  quite  different 
times  by  two  females.  For  about  a  week,  depending  ujjon  the  tem- 
perature, the  male  is  absorbed  in  his  care  of  the  eggs  and  defends  his  nest 
with  much  ferocity,  but  after  the  eggs  have  hatched  he  considers  his  duty 
done  and  lets  his  progeny  take  care  of  themselves  as  best  they  may. 

Sunfish  are  easily  taken  care  of  in  an  aquarium,  but  each  should  be 
kept  by  himself  as  they  are  likely  to  attack  any  smaller  fish  and  are  most 
uncomfortable  neighbors.  I  have  kept  one  of  these  beautiful,  shimmer- 
ing pumpkin  seeds  for  nearly  a  year,  by  feeding  him  every  alternate  day 
with  an  earthwonn;  these  unfortunate  creatures  are  kept  stored  in  damp 
soil  in  an  iron  kettle  during  the  winter.  When  I  threw  one  of  them  into 
the  aquarium  he  would  seize  it  and  shake  it  as  a  terrier  shakes  a  rat ;  but 
this  was  perhaps  to  make  sure  of  his  hold.  Once  he  attempted  to  take  the 
second  worm  directly  after  the  first;  but  it  was  a  doubtful  proceeding, 
and  the  worm  reappeared  as  often  as  a  prima  donna,  waving  each  time  a 
frenzied  farewell  to  the  world. 

The  Sunfish 

Leading  thought — The  pumpkin  seeds  are  very  gamey  little  fishes 
which  seize  the  hook  with  much  fierceness.  They  live  in  the  still  waters 
of  our  streams  or  in  ponas  and  build  nests  in  the  spring,  in  which  the  eggs 
are  laid  and  which  they  defend  valiantly. 

Method — The  common  pumpkin  seed  in  the  jar  aquarium  is  all  that  is 
necessary  for  this  lesson.  However,  it  will  add  much  to  the  interest  of 
the  lesson  if  the  boys  who  have  fished  for  pumpkin  seeds  will  tell  of  their 
experiences.  The  children  should  be  stimulated  by  this  lesson  to  a  keen 
interest  in  the  nesting  habits  of  the  sunfishes. 

Observations — i.  Where  are  the  sunfish  found?  How  do  they  act 
when  they  take  the  hook  ? 

2.  What  is  the  general  shape  of  the  sunfish's  body  as  seen  from 
above?     As  seen  from  the  side?     Why  is  it  called  pumpkin  seed? 

3.  Describe  the  dorsal  fin.  How  many  spines  has  it?  How  many 
soft  rays?  What  is  the  difierence  in  appearance  between  the  front  and 
hind  dorsal  fin?  Do  the  two  act  together  or  separately?  Describe  the 
tail  fin.  Describe  the  anal  fin.  Has  it  any  spines  ?  If  so,  where  are  they  ? 
Where  are  the  ventral  fins  in  relation  to  the  pectorals?  What  is  there 
peculiar  about  the  appearance  and  movements  of  the  pectoral  fins? 

4.  Describe  the  eye  of  the  sunfish.  Is  it  large  or  small?  Is  it 
placed  so  that  the  fish  can  see  on  each  side?  Does  the  eye  move  in  all 

5.  Describe  the  position  of  the  mouth.  In  which  direction  does  it 

176  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

6.  What  is  the  color  of  the  upper  portion  of  the  gill  opening  or 
operculum?  What  is  the  general  color  of  the  sunfish?  Above?  Below? 
Along  the  sides?     What  markings  do  you  see? 

7.  Where  does  the  sunfish  make  its  nest?  Does  the  father  or 
mother  sunfish  make  the  nest?  Do  one  or  both  protect  it?  Describe  the 

8.  How  many  names  do  you  know  for  the  sunfish?  Describe  the 
actions  of  your  sunfish  in  the  aquarium.  How  does  he  act  when  eating 
an  earthworm? 

Supplementary  reading — Chapters  XXX,  XXXVI,  in  Fish  Stories, 
Jordan  and  Holder. 

"The  lamprey  is  not  a  fish  at  all,  only  a  wicked  imitation  of  one  which  can  deceive 
nobody.  But  there  are  fishes  which  are  unquestionably  fish — fish  from  gills  to  tail,  from 
head  to  fin,  and  of  these  the  little  sunfish  may  stand  first.  He  comes  up  the  brook  in  the 
spring,  fresh  as  "coin  just  from  the  mint,"  finny  arms  and  legs  wide  spread,  his  gills 
moving,  his  mouth  opening  and  shutting  rhythmically,  liis  tail  wide  spread,  and  ready 
for  any  sudden  -inotion  for  which  his  erratic  little  brain  may  give  the  order.  The  scales 
of  the  sunfish  shine  with  all  sorts  of  scarlet,  blue,  green  and  pur  pie  and  golden  colors. 
There  is  a  black  spot  on  his  head  which  looks  like  an  ear,  and  sometimes  grows  out  in  a 
long  black  flap,  which  makes  the  imitation  still  closer.  There  are  many  species  of  the 
sunfish,  and  there  may  be  Jialf  a  dozen  of  them  in  the  same  brook,  but  that  makes  no 
difference;   for  our  purposes  they  are  all  one. 

They  lie  poised  in  the  water,  with  all  fins  spread,  strutting  like  turkey-cocks,  snap- 
ping at  worms  and  little  crustaceans  and  insects  whose  only  business  in  the  brook  is  that 
the  fishes  may  eat  them.  When  the  time  comes,  the  sunfish  makes  its  nest  in  the  fine 
gravel,  building  it  with  some  care — for  a  fish.  When  the  female  has  laid  her  eggs  the 
male  stands  guard  until  the  eggs  are  hatched.  His  sharp  teeth  and  snappish  ways,  and 
^he  bigness  of  his  appearance  when  the  fins  are  all  displayed,  keep  the  little  fishes  away. 
Sometimes,  in  his  zeal,  he  snaps  at  a  hook  baited  with  a  worm.  He  then  makes  a  fierce 
fight,  and  the  boy  who  holds  the  rod  is  sure  that  he  has  a  real  fish  this  time.  But  when 
the  sunfish  is  out  of  the  water,  strung  on  a  willow  rod,  and  dried  in  the  sun,  the  boy  sees 
that  a  very  little  fish  can  make  a  good  deal  of  a  fuss." 

— David   Starr  Jordan. 

FisJi  Study 

1 1 

1  ne  johnny  darter  likes  a  swift-flowing  brook. 

Teacher's  Story 

'^We  never  tired  of  watching  the  little  Johnny,  or  Tessellated  darter  {Boleosonia 
nigrum) ,  although  our  earliest  aquarium  friend,  [and  the  very  first  specimens  showed  us 
by  a  rapid  ascent  of  tlie  river  weed  hew  'a  Johnny  could  climb  trees,')  he  has  still  many 
resources  which  we  have  never  learned.  Whenever,'  we  try  to  catch  him  ivith  the  hand 
we  begin  with  all  the  uncertainty  that  characterized  our  first  attempts,  even  if  we  have 
him  in  a  tivo-qtiart  pail.  We  may  know  him  by  his  short  fins,  his  first  dorsal  having 
but  nine  spines,  and  by  the  absence  of  all  color  save  a  soft,  yellowish  brown,  which  is 
freckled  with  darker  markings.  The  dark  brown  on  the  sides  is  arranged  in  seven  or 
eight  W-shaped  marks,  below  which  are  a  few  flecks  of  the  same  color.  Covering  the 
sides  of  the  back  are  the  wavy  markings  and  dark  specks  which  have  given  the  name  of 
the  "Tessellated  Darter;"  but  Boleosoma  is  a  preferred  name,  and  zve  even  prefer  'boly' 
for  short.  In  the  spring  the  mules  have  the  head  jet  black;  and  this  dark  color  often 
extends  on  the  back  part  of  the  body,  so  that  the  fish  looks  as  if  he  had  been  taken  by  the 
tail  and  dipped  into  a  bottle  of  ink.  But  nith  the  end  of  the  nuptial  season  this  color 
disappears  and  tJie  fish  regains  his  normal,  strawy  hue. 

His  actions  are  rather  bird-like;  for  he  xvill  strike  attitudes  like  a  tufted  titmouse 
and  he  flies  rather  than  swims  throtigh  the  water.  He  will,  with  much  perseverance, 
push  his  body  between  a  plant  and  the  sides  of  the  aquarium  and  balance  himself  on  a 
slender  stem.  Crouchijig  catlike  before  a  snail  shell,  he  will  snap  off  a  horn  which  the 
unlucky  owner  pushes  timtdly  out.  But  he  is  also  less  dainty  and  seizing  the  anitnal 
by  the  head,  he  dashes  the  shell  against  the  glass  or  stones  uiUil  he  pulls  the  body  out  or 
breaks  the  shell." — David  Starr  Jordan. 

The  johnny  darters  are,  with  the  sticklebacks,  the  most  amusing  little 
fish  in  the  aquarium.  They  are  well  called  darters  since  their  movements 
are  so  rapid  when  they  are  frightened  that  the  eye  can  scarcely  follow 
them;  and  there  is  something  so  irresistibly  comical  in  their  bright,  saucy 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

eyes,  placed  almost  on  top  of  the  head,  that  no  one  could  help  calling  one 
of  them  "Johnny."  A  "johnny"  will  look  at  you  from  one  side,  and  then 
as  quick  as  a  flash,  will  flounce  around  and  study  you  with  the  other  eye 
and  then  come  toward  you  head-on  so  that  he  may  take  you  in  with  both 
eyes;  he  seems  just  as  interested  in  the  Johnny  out  of  the  jar  as  is  the 
latter,  in  the  johnny  within. 

The  johnny  darter  has  a  queer  shaped  body  for  a  fish,  for  the  head 
and  shoulders  are  the  larger  part  of  him;  not  that  he  suddenly  disappears 
into  nothingness,  by  no  means!  His  body  is  long  and  very  slightly 
tapering  to  the  tail;  along  his  lateral  line  he  has  a  row  of  olive-brown  W's 
worked  out  in  scale-mosaics;  and  he  has  some  other  scale-mosaics  also 
following  a  pattern  of  angular  lines  and  making  blotches  along  his  back. 
The  whole  upper  part  of  his  body  is  pale  olive,  which  is  a  good  imitation 
of  the  color  of  the  brook. 

The  astonished  and  anxious  look  on  the  johnny  darter's  face  comes 
from  the  peculiar  position  of  the  eyes  which  are  set  in  the  top  of  his  fore- 
head; they  are  big,  alert  eyes,  with  large  black  pupils,  surrounded  by  a 
shining,  pale  yellow  line  at  the  inner  edge  of  the  green  iris;  and  as  the 
pupil  is  not  set  in  the  center  of  the  eye,  the  iris  above  being  wider  than 
below,  the  result  is  an  astonished  look,  as  from  raised  eyebrows.  The 
eyes  move,  often  so  swiftly  that  it  gives  the  impression  of  winking.  The 
eyes,  the  short  snout,  and  the  wide  mouth  give  johnny  a  decidedly  frog- 
rT'-  like  aspect. 




is  no 
a  fair 

Although  he 
yet  johnny 
seems  to  be  in 
way  to  develop 
thing  to  walk  upon.  His 
pectoral  fins  are  large 
and  strong  and  the  ven- 
tral pair  are  situated 
The  johnny  darter.  ^^^^  ^^^^^  ^^  ^^^^ .  ^^^^ 

he  rests  upon  the  gravel  he  supports  himself  upon  one  or  both  of  these 
pairs  of  fins.  He  rests  with  the  pectoral  fins  outspread,  the  sharp  points 
of  the  rays  taking  hold  of  the  gravel  like  toenails  and  thus  give  him  the 
appearance  of  walking  on  his  fins;  if  you  poke  him  gently,  you  will  find 
that  he  is  very  firmly  planted  on  his  fins  so  that  you  can  turn  him  around 
as  if  he  were  on  a  pivot.  He  also  uses  the  pectorals  for  swimming  and 
jerks  himself  along  with  them  in  a  way  that  makes  one  wonder  if  he  could 
not  swim  well  without  any  tail  at  all.  The  tail  is  large  and  almost  straight 
across  the  end  and  is  a  most  vigorous  pusher.  There  are  two  dorsal  fins; 
the  front  one  has  only  nine  rays;  these  are  not  branched  and  are  therefore 
spines;  when  the  fin  is  raised  it  appears  almost  semi-circular  in  shape. 
The  hind  dorsal  fin  is  much  longer  and  when  lifted  stands  higher  than 
the  front  one;  its  rays  are  all  branched  except  the  front  one.  As 
soon  as  the  johnny  stops  swimming  he  shuts  the  front  dorsal  fin  so  that 
it  can  scarcely  be  detected;  when  frightened  he  shuts  both  the  dorsal  fins 
and  closes  the  tail  and  the  anal  fin  and  spreads  out  his  paired  fins  so  that 
his  body  lies  flat  on  the  bottom;  this  act  always  reminds  one  of  the 
"freezing"  habit  of  the  rabbit.  But  johnny  does  not  stay  scared  very 
long;  he  lifts  his  head  up  inquisitively,  stretching  up  as  far  as  he  is  able 
on  his  front  feet,  that  is,  his  pectorals,  in  such  a  comical  way  that  one 
can  hardly  realize  he  is  a  fish. 

Fish  Sttidy  179 

The  tail  and  the  dorsal  fin  of  the  johnny  darter  are  marked  with  silver 
dots  which  give  them  an  exquisite  spun-glass  look ;  they  are  as  transparent 
as  gauze. 

The  johnny  darters  live  in  clear,  swift  streams  where  they  rest  on  the 
bottom,  with  the  head  up  stream.  Dr.  Jordan  has  said  they  can  climb 
up  water  weed  with  their  paired  fins.  I  have  never  observed  them  doing 
this  but  I  have  often  seen  one  walk  around  the  aquarium  on  his  fins  as  if 
they  were  little  fan-shaped  feet ;  and  when  swimming  he  uses  his  fins  as  a 
bird  uses  its  wings.  There  are  many  species  of  darters,  some  of  them  the 
most  brilliantly  colored  of  any  of  our  fresh-water  fishes.  The  darters  are 
perch-like  in  form. 

Dr.  Jordan  says  of  the  breeding  habits  of  the  darters:  "On  the  bot- 
tom, among  the  stones,  the  female  casts  her  spawn.  Neither  she  nor  the 
male  pays  any  further  attention  to  it,  but  in  the  breeding  season  the  male 
is  painted  in  colors  as  beautiful  as  those  of  the  wood  warblers.  When  you 
go  to  the  brook  in  the  spring  you  will  find  him  there,  and  if  you  catch  him 
and  tarn  him  over  on  his  side  you  will  see  the  colors  that  he  shows  to  his 
mate,  and  which  observation  shows  are  most  useful  in  frightening  away 
his  younger  rivals.  But  do  not  hurt  him.  Put  him  back  in  the  brook 
and  let  him  paint  its  bottom  with  colors  of  a  rainbow,  a  sunset  or  a  gar- 
den of  roses  All  that  can  be  done  with  blue,  crimson  and  green  pig- 
ments, in  fish  ornamentation,  you  will  find  in  some  brook  in  which  the 
darters  live." 

Johnny  Darter 

Leading  thought — The  johnny  darter  naturally  rests  upon  the  bottom 
of  the  stream  where  the  current  is  swift.  It  uses  its  two  pairs  of  paired 
fins  somewhat  as  feet  in  a  way  interesting  to  observe. 

Method — Johnny  darters  may  be  caught  in  nets  with  other  small  fry 
and  placed  in  the  aquarium.  Place  one  or  two  of  them  in  individual 
aquaria  where  the  pupils  may  observe  them  at  their  leisure.  They  do 
best  in  running  water. 

Observations — i.  Describe  or  sketch  the  johnny  darter  from  above. 
From  the  side.  Can  you  see  the  W-shaped  marks  along  its  side?  How  is 
it  colored  above? 

2.  How  are  the  pectoral  fins  placed?  Are  they  large  or  small? 
How  are  they  used  in  swimming?  Where  are  the  ventral  fins  placed? 
How  are  the  ventrals  and  dorsals  used  together?  When  resting  on  the 
bottom  how  are  the  pectoral  fins  used? 

3.  What  is  there  peculiar  about  the  dorsal  fins  of  the  johnny 
darter?  When  he  is  resting,  what  is  the  attitude  of  the  dorsal  fins? 
What  is  the  difference  in  shape  of  the  rays  of  the  front  and  hind  dorsal 

4.  When  resting  on  the  bottom  of  the  aquarium  how  is  the  body 
held?  On  what  does  it  rest*?  In  moving  about  the  bottom  slowly  why 
does  it  seem  to  walk?     How  does  it  cHmb  up  water  weed? 

5.  When  frightened  how  does  it  act?  Why  is  it  called  a  darter? 
What  is  the  attitude  of  all  the  fins  when  the  fish  is  moving  swiftly? 

6.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  tail? 

i8o  Handbook  of  N ature-Study 

7.  What  is  there  peculiar  about  the  eyes  of  the  johnny?  Describe 
the  eyes  and  their  position.  What  reason  is  there  in  the  hfe  of  the  fish 
that  makes  this  position  of  the  eyes  advantageous? 

8.  Where  do  we  find  the  johnny  darters?  In  what  part  of  the 
stream  do  they  hve?  Are  they  usuaUy  near  the  surface  of  the  water  or  at 
the  bottom? 

"To  iny  mind,  the  best  of  all  subjects  for  nature-study  is  a  brook.  It  affords  studies 
of  many  kinds.  It  is  near  and  dear  to  every  child.  It  is  an  epitome  of  the  nature  in 
which  we  live.  In  miniature,  it  illustrates  the  forces  which  have  shaped  tnuch  of  the 
earth's  surface.  It  reflects  the  sky.  It  is  kissed  by  the  sun.  It  is  rippled  by  the  wind. 
The  minnoivs  play  in  the  pools.  The  soft  ivecds  groiv  in  the  shallows.  The  grass  and 
the  datidelions  lie  on  its  sunny  banks.  The  moss  and  the  fern  are  sheltered  in  the  nooks. 
It  conies  from  one  knows  not  ivhence;  it  flows  to  one  knows  not  whither.  It  aivakens 
the  desire  to  explore.  It  is  fraught  ivith  mysteries.  It  typifies  the  flood  of  life.  It 
goes  on  forever. 

In  other  words,  the  rcaso)i  why  the  brook  is  such  a  perfect  nature-study  subject  is  the 
fact  that  it  is  the  central  theme  in  a  scene  of  life.     Living  things  appeal  to  children." 

"Nature-study  not  only  educates,  but  it  educates  nature-ward ;  and  nature  is  ever  our 
cotnpanion.  whether  ive  will  or  no.  Even  though  we  are  determined  to  shut  ourselves  in 
an  office,  nature  sends  her  messengers.  The  light,  the  dark,  the  moon,  the  cloud,  the 
rain,  the  wind,  the  falling  leaf,  the  fly,  the  bouquet,  the  bird,  the  cockroach — they  arc  all 

If  one  is  to  be  happy,  he  must  be  in  sympathy  with  common  things.  He  must  live  in 
harmony  with  his  environment.  One  cannot  be  happy  yonder  nor  tomorrow :  he  is 
happy  iiere  and  now,  or  never.  Our  stock  of  knowledge  of  common  things  should  be 
great.     Few  of  us  can  travel.      We  must  know  the  tilings  at  home. 

Nature-love  tends  toward  naturalness,  and  toward  simplicity  of  living.  It  ttiids 
country-ward.  0)u^  word  from  the  fields  is  worth  two  from  the  city.  "God  made  the 
country. ' ' 

I  expect,  therefore,  that  much  good  will  come  from  nature-study.  It  ought  to 
revolutionize  the  school  life,  for  it  is  capable  of  putting  new  force  and  enthusiasm  into 
the  school  and  the  child.  It  is  new,  a)id  therefore,  is  called  a  fad.  A  movement  is  a  fad 
until  it  succeeds.  We  shall  learn  much,  and  shall  outgroiv  some  of  our  present  notions, 
but  nature-study  has  come  to  stay.  It  is  in  much  the  same  stage  of  development  that 
manual-training  and  kindergarten  work  were  twenty-five  years  ago.  We  must  take  care 
that  it  does  not  crystalize  into  science-teaching  on  the  one  hand,  nor  fall  into  mere 
sentimentalism  on  tJw  other. 

I  ivould  again  emphasize  the  importance  of  obtaining  our  fact  before  ive  let  loose  the 
imagination,  for  on  this  point  will  largely  turn  the  results — the  failure  or  the  success  of 
the  experiment.  We  must  not  allow  our  fancy  to  run  away  with  tts.  If  we  hitch  our 
wagon  to  a  star,  we  must  ride  with  mind  and  soul  and  body  all  alert.  When  we  ride  in 
such  a  wagon,  we  must  not  forget  to  put  in  the  tail-board." 

— L.  H.  Bailey  in  The  Nature-Study  Idea. 

Batrachian  Study  i8i 



TeacJier's  Story 
"The  toad  hopped  by  us  with  jolting  springs." — Akers. 

HOEVER  has  not  had  a  pet  toad  has  missed  a  most 
entertaining  experience.  Toad  actions  are  surpris- 
ingly interesting;  one  of  my  safeguards  against  the 
blues  is  the  memory  of  the  thoughtful  way  one  of  my 
pet  toads  rubbed  and  patted  its  stomach  with  its  little 
hands  after  it  had  swallowed  a  June-bug.  Toads  do 
not  make  warts  upon  attacking  hands,  neither  do  they 
rain  down  nor  are  they  found  in  the  bed-rock  of 
quarries;  but  they  do  have  a  most  interesting  history  of  their  own, 
which  is  not  at  all  legendary,  and  which  is  very  like  a  life  with  two  in- 

The  mother  toad  lays  her  eggs  in  May  and  June  in  ponds,  or  in  the  siill 
pools,  along  streams;  the  eggs  are  laid  in  long  strings  of  jellylike  sub- 
stance, and  are  dropped  upon  the  pond  bottom  or  attached  to  water 
weeds;  when  first  deposited,  the  jelly  is  transparent  and  the  little  black 
eggs  can  be  plainly  seen ;  but  after  a  day  or  two,  bits  of  dirt  accumulate 
upon  the  jelly,  obscuring  the  eggs.  x\t  first  the  eggs  are  spherical,  like 
tiny  black  pills,  but  as  they  begin  to  develop,  they  elongate  and  finally 
the  tadpoles  may  be  seen  wriggling  in  the  jelly  mass,  which  affords  them 
efficient  protection.  After  four  or  five  da3's,  the  tadpoles  usually 
work  their  way  out  and  swim  away;  at  this  stage,  the  only  way  to  detect 
the  head,  is  by  the  direction  of  the  tadpole's  progress,  since  it  naturally 
goes  head  first.  However,  the  head  soon  becomes  decidedly  larger, 
although  at  first  it  is  not  provided  with  a  mouth;  it  has  instead,  a 
V-shaped  elevation  where  the  mouth  should  be,  which  forms  a  sucker 
secreting  a  sticky  substance  by  means  of  which  the  tadpole  attaches 
itself  to  water  weeds,  resting  head  up.  When  two  or  three  days  old,  we 
can  detect  little  tassels  on  either  side  of  the  throat,  which  are  the  gills 
by  which  the  little  creature  breathes;  the  blood  passes  through  these 
gills,  and  is  purified  by  coming  in  contact  with  the  air  which  is  mixed  in 
the  water.  About  ten  days  later,  these  gills  disappear  beneath  a  mem- 
brane which  grows  down  over  them ;  but  they  are  still  used  for  breathing, 
simply  having  changed  position  from  the  outside  to  the  inside  of  the 
throat.  The  water  enters  the  nostrils  to  the  mouth,  passes  through  an 
opening  in  the  throat  and  flows  over  the  gills  and  out  through  a  little 
opening  at  the  left  side  of  the  body;  this  opening  or  breathing-pore,  can 
be  easily  seen  in  the  larger  tadpoles;  and  when  the  left  arm  develops,  it  is 
pushed  out  through  this  convenient  orifice. 

When  about  ten  days  old,  the  tadpole  has  developed  a  small,  round 
mouth  which  is  constantly  in  search  of  something  to  eat,  and  at  the  same 
time  constantly  opening  and  shutting  to  take  in  air  for  the  gills;  the 
mouth  is  provided  with  horny  jaws  for  biting  off  pieces  of  plants.     As  the 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

tadpole  develops,  its  mouth  gets  larger  and  wider  and  extends  back 
beneath  the  eyes,  with  a  truly  toadlike  expansiveness. 

At  first,  the  tadpole's  eyes  are  even  with  the  surface  of  the  head  and 
can  scarcely  be  seen,  but  later  they  become  more  prominent  and  bulge 
like  the  eyes  of  the  adult  toad. 

The  tail  of  the  tadpole  is  long  and  flat,  surrounded  by  a  fin,  thus 
making  an  organ  for  swimming.  It  strikes  the  water,  first  this  side  and 
then  that,  making  most  graceful  curves,  which  seem  to  originate  near  the 

Toad's  eggs. 
Photo  by  Verne  Morton. 

body  and  multiply  toward  the  tip  of  the  tail.  This  movement  propels 
the  tadpole  forward,  or  in  any  direction.  The  tail  is  very  thin  when  seen 
from  above;  and  it  is  amusing  to  look  at  a  tadpole  from  above,  and  then 
at  the  side;  it  is  like  squaring  a  circle. 

There  is  a  superstition  that  tadpoles  eat  their  tails;  and  in  a  sense  this 
is  true,  because  the  material  that  is  in  the  tail  is  absorbed  into  the  growing 
body;  but  the  last  thing  a  right-minded  tadpole  would  do,  would  be  to 
bite  off  its  own  tail.  However,  if  some  other  tadpole  should  bite  off  the 
tail  or  a  growing  leg,  these  organs  conveniently  grow  anew. 

When  the  tadpole  is  a  month  or  two  old,  depending  upon  the  species, 
its  hind  legs  begin  to  show;  they  first  appear  as  mere  buds  which  finally 
push  out  completely.  The  feet  are  long  and  provided  with  five  toes,  of 
which  the  fourth  is  the  longest;  the  toes  are  webbed  so  that  they  may  be 
used  to  help  in  swimming.  Two  weeks  later  the  anns  begin  to  appear, 
the  left  one  pushing  out  through  the  breathing-pore.  The  "hands"  have 
four  fingers  and  are  not  webbed ;  they  are  used  in  the  water  for  balancing ; 
while  the  hind  legs  are  used  for  pushing,  as  the  tail  becomes  smaller. 

Batrachian  Study 


As  the  tadpole  grows  older,  not  only  does  its  tail  become  shorter  but 
its  actions  change.  It  now  comes  often  to  the  surface  of  the  water  in 
order  to  get  more  air  for  its  gills,  although  it  lacks  the  frog  tadpole's 
nice  adjustment  of  the  growing  lungs  and  the  disappearing  gills.  At 
last  some  fine  rainy  day,  the  little  creature  feels  that  it  is  finally  fitted 
to  live  the  life  of  a  land  animal.  It  may  not  be  a  half  inch  in 
length,  with  big  head,  attenuated  body  and  stumpy  tail,  but  it  swims  to 
the  shore,  lifts  itself  on  its  front  legs,  which  are  scarcely  larger  than  pins, 
and  walks  off,  toeing  in,  with  a  very  grown  up  air,  and  at  this  moment,  the 
tadpole  attains  toadship.  Numbers  of  them  come  out  of  the  water 
together,  hopping  hither  and  thither  with  all  of  the  eagerness  and  vim  of 
untried  youth.  It  is  when  issuing  thus  in  hordes  from  the  water  and  seen 
by  the  ignorant,  that  they  gain  the  reputation  of  being  rained  down,  when 
they  really  were  rained  up.  It  is  quite  impossible  for  a  beginner  to  detect 
the  difference  between  the  toad  and  the  frog  tadpole;  usually  those  of  the 
toads  are  black,  while  those  of  the  frogs  are  otherwise  colored,  though  this 
is  not  an  invariable  distinction.  The  best  way  to  distinguish  the  two  is 
to  get  the  eggs  and  develop  the  two  families  separately. 

The  general  color  of  the  common  American  toad  is  extremely  variable. 
It  may  be  yellowish-brown,  with  spots  of  lighter  color,  and  with  reddish  or 
yellow  warts.  There  are  likely  to  be  four  irregular  spots  of  dark  color 
along  each  side  of  the  middle  of  the  back,  and  the  under  parts  are  light 
colored,  often  somewhat  spotted.  The  throat  of  the  male  toad  is  black 
and  he  is  not  so  bright  m  color  as  is  the  female.  The  warts  upon  the  back 
are  glands,  which  secrete  a  substance  disagreeable  for  the  animal  seeking 
toad  dinners.  This  is  especially  true  of  the  glands  in  the  elongated 
swelling  or  wart,  above  and  just  back  of  the  ear,  which  is  Ca-lled  the 
parotid  gland;  these  give  forth  a  milky,  poisonous  substance  when  the 
toad  is  seized  b}^  an  enemy,  although  the  snakes  do  not  seem  to  mind  it. 
Some  people  have  an  idea  that  the  toad  is  slimy,  but  this  is  not  true;  the 
skin  is  perfectly  dry.  The  toad  feels  cold  to  the  hand  because  it  is  a  cold- 
blooded animal,  which  means  an  animal  with  blood  the  temperature  of 
the  stirrounding  atmosphere;  while  the  blood  of  the  warm-blooded 
animal,  has  a  temperature  of  its  own,  which  it  maintains  whether  the 
surrounding  air  is  cold  or  hot. 

The  toad's  face  is  well  worth 
study;  its  eyes  are  elevated 
and  very  pretty,  the  pupil  being 
oval  and  the  surrounding  iris 
shining  like  gold.  The  toad 
winks  in  a  wholesale  fashion,  the 
eyes  being  pulled  down  into  the 
head;  the  eyes  are  provided  with 
nictitating  lids,  which  rise  from 
below,  and  are  similar  to  those 
found  in  birds.  When  a  toad  is 
sleeping,  its  eyes  do  not  bulge 
but  are  drawn  in,  so  as  to  lie  even 
with  the  surface  of  the  head. 
The  two  tiny  nostrils  are  black 
and  are  easily  seen ;  the  ear  is  a 
flat,  oval  spot  behind  the    eye 

After  a  hard  winter. 

Photo  by  Cyrus  Crosby. 

jg^  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

and  a  little  lower  down;  in  the  common  species  it  is  not  quite  so  large 
as  the  eye;  this  is  really  the  ear-drum,  since  there  is  no  external  ear  like 
ours.  The  toad's  mouth  is  wide  and  its  jaws  are  homy;  it  does  not  need 
teeth  since  it  swallows  its  prey  whole. 

The  toad  is  a  jumper,  as  may  be  seen  from  its  long,  strong  hind  legs, 
the  feet  of  which  are  also  long  and  strong  and  armed  with  five  toes 
that  are  somewhat  webbed.  The  "arms"  are  shorter  and  there  are 
four  "fingers"  to  each  "hand;"  when  the  toad  is  resting,  its  front 
feet  toe-in,  in  a  comical  fashion.  If  a  toad  is  removed  from  an 
earth  or  moss  garden,  and  put  into  a  w^hite  wash-bowl,  in  a  few  hours  it 
will  change  to  a  lighter  hue,  and  vice  versa.  This  is  part  of  its  pro- 
tective color,  making  it  inconspicuous  to  the  eyes  of  its  enemy.  It 
prefers  to  live  in  cool,  damp  places,  beneath  sidewalks  or  piazzas,  etc., 
and  its  warty  upper  surface  resembles  the  surrounding  earth.  If  it  is 
disturbed,  it  will  seek  to  escape  by  long  leaps  and  acts  frightened;  but 
if  very  much  frightened,  it  flattens  out  on  the  ground,  and  looks  so 
nearly  like  a  clod  of  earth  that  it  may  escape  even  the  keen  eyes  of  its 
pursuer.  AVhen  seized  by  the  enemy,  it  will  sometimes  "play  possum," 
acting  as  if  it  were  dead ;  but  when  actually  in  the  mouth  of  the  foe,  it 
emits  terrified  and  heart-rending  cries. 

The  toad's  tongue  is  attached  to  the  lower  jaw,  at  the  front  edge  of  the 
mouth ;   it  can  thus  be  thrust  far  out,  and  since  it  secretes  a  sticky  sub- 
stance over  its  surface,  any  insects  which  it  touches  adhere,  and  are  drawn 
back  into  the  mouth  and  swallowed.     It  takes  a  quick  eye  to  see  this 
tongue  fly  out  and  make  its  catch.     The  tadpole    feeds    mostly  upon 
vegetable  matter,  but  the  toad  lives  entirely  upon  small  animals,  usually 
insects;  it  is  not  particular  as  to  what  kind  of  insects;  but  because  of  the 
situations  which  it  haunts,  it  usually  feeds  upon  those  which  are  injurious 
to  grass  and  plants.     Indeed,  the  toad  is  really  the  friend  of  the  gardener 
and  farmer,  and  has  been  most  ungratefully  treated  by  those  whom  it 
has  befriended.     If  you  doubt  that  a  toad  is  an  animal  of  judgment, 
watch  it  when  it  finds  an  earthworm  and  set  your  doubts  at  rest !     It  will 
walk  around  the  squirming  worm,  until  it  can  seize  it  by  the  head, 
apparently  knowing  well  that  the  homy  hooks  extending  backward  from 
the  segments  of  the  worm,  are  likely  to  rasp  the  throat  if  swallowed  the 
wrong  way.     If  the  worm  prove  a  too  large  mouthful,  the  toad  promptly 
uses  its  hands  in  an  amusing  fashion  to  stuff  the  wriggling  morsel  down 
its  throat.     When  swallowing  a  large  mouthful,  it  closes  its  eyes;    but 
whether  this  aids  the  process,  or  is  merely  an  expression  of  bliss,  we  have 
not  determined.     The  toad  never  drinks  by  taking  in  water  through  the 
mouth,  but  absorbs  it  through  the  skin;    when  it  wishes  to  drink,  it 
stretches  itself  out  in  shallow  water  and  thus  satisfies  its  thirst;    it  will 
waste  away  and  die  in  a  short  time,  if  kept  in  a  dry  atmosphere. 

The  toad  burrows  in  the  earth  by  a  method  of  its  own,  hard  to  describe. 
It  kicks  backward  with  its  strong  hind  legs,  and  in  some  mysterious  way, 
the  earth  soon  covers  all  excepting  its  head;  then,  if  an  enemy  comes 
along,  back  goes  the  head,  the  earth  caves  in  around  it,  and  where  is  your 
toad!  It  remains  in  its  burrow  or  hiding  place  usually  during  the  day, 
and  comes  out  at  night  to  feed.  This  habit  is  an  advantage,  because 
snakes  are  then  safely  at  home  and,  too,  there  are  many  more  insects  to 
be  found  at  night.  The  sagacious  toads  have  discovered  that  the 
vicinity  of  street  lights  is  swarming  with  insects,  and  there  they  gather  in 

Batrachian  Stitdv 


numbers.  In  winter  they  burrow  deeply  in  the  ground  and  go  to  sleep, 
remaining  dormant  until  the  warmth  of  spring  awakens  them;  then,  they 
come  out,  and  the  mother  toads  seek  their  native  ponds  there  to  lay  eggs 
for  the  coming  generation.  They  are  excellent  swimmers;  when  swim- 
ming rapidly,  the  front  legs  are  laid  backward  along  the  sides  of  the  body, 
so  as  to  offer  no  resistance  to  the  water;  but  when  moving  slowly,  the 
front  legs  are  used  for  balancing  and  for  keeping  afloat. 

The  song  of  the  toad  is  a  pleasant,  crooning  sound,  a  sort  of  gutteral 
trill ;  it  is  made  when  the  throat  is  puffed  out  almost  globular,  thus  form- 
ing a  vocal  sac;  the  sound  is  made  by  the  air  drawn  in  at  the  nostrils  and 
passed  back  and  forth  from  the  lungs  to  the  mouth  over  the  vocal  chords, 
the  puffed-out  throat  acting  as  a  resonator. 

The  toad  has  no  ribs  by  which  to  inflate  the  chest,  and  thus  draw  air 
into  the  lungs,  as  we  do  when  we  breathe ;  it  is  obliged  to  swallow  the  air 
instead  and  thus  force  it  into  the  lungs.  This  movement  is  shown  in  the 
constant  pulsation,  in  and  out,  of  the  membrane  of  the  throat. 

As  the  toad  grows,  it  sheds  its  horny  skin,  which  it  swallows;  as  this 
process  is  usually  done  strictly  in  private,  the  ordinary  observer  sees  it 
but  seldom.  One  of  the  toad's  nice  common  qualities  is  its  enjoyment  in 
having  its  back  scratched  gently. 

The  toad  has  many  enemies;  chief  among  these  is  the  snake  and  in 
only  a  lesser  degree,  crows  and  also  birds  of  prey. 

Reference — The  Frog  Book,  Dickerson;  Familiar 
Forest,  Mathews;  The  Usefulness  of  the  American 
Agr.,  Farmers  Bulletin,  No.  196. 


Life  in  Field  and 
Toad,  U.  S.  Dept. 

The  Tadpole  Aquarium 

Leading  thought — The  children 
should  understand  how  to  make 
the  tadpoles  comfortable  and 
thus  be  able  to  rear  them. 

Materials — A  tin  or  agate  pan 
or  a  deep  earthenware  wash- 

Things  to  be  done — i.  Go  to 
some  pond  where  tadpoles  live. 

2.  Take  some  of  the  small 
stones  on  the  bottom  and  at  the 
sides  of  the  pond  lifting  them 
very  gently  so  as  not  to  disturb 
what  is  growing  on  their  surface. 
Place  these  stones  on  the  bottom 
of  the  pan,  building  up  one  side 
higher  than  the  other,  so  that 
the  water  will  be  more  shallow 
on  one  side  than  on  the  other; 
a  stone  or  two  should  project 
above  the  water. 

3.  Take  some  of  the  mud  and  leaves  from  the  bottom  of 
being  careful  not  to  disturb  them  and  place  upon  the  stones. 

the  pond, 

1 86  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

4.  Take  some  of  the  plants  found  growing  under  water  in  the  pond 
and  plant  them  among  the  stones. 

5.  Carry  the  pan  thus  prepared  back  to  the  schoolhouse  and  place  it 
where  the  sun  will  not  shine  directly  upon  it. 

6.  Bring  a  pail  of  water  from  the  pond  and  pour  it  very  gently  in  at 
one  side  of  the  pan,  so  as  not  to  disarrange  the  plants;  fill  the  pan  nearly 
to  the  brim. 

7.  After  the  mud  has  settled  and  the  water  is  perfectly  clear,  remove 
some  of  the  tadpoles,  which  have  hatched  in  the  glass  aquarium,  and  place 
in  the  "pond."  Not  more  than  a  dozen  should  be  put  in  a  pan  of  this 
size,  since  the  amount  of  food  and  microscopic  plants  which  are  on  the 
stones  in  the  mud,  will  afford  food  for  only  a  few  tadpoles. 

8.  Every  week  add  a  little  more  mud  from  the  bottom  of  the  pond  or 
another  stone  covered  with  slime,  which  is  probably  some  plant  growth. 
More  water  from  the  pond  should  be  added  to  replace  that  evaporated. 

9.  Care  should  be  taken  that  the  tadpole  aquarium  be  kept  where  the 
sun  will  not  shine  directly  upon  it  for  any  length  of  time,  because  if  the 
water  gets  too  warm  the  tadpoles  will  die. 

10.  Remove  the  "skin"  from  one  side  of  a  tulip  leaf,  so  as  to  expose 
the  pulp  of  the  leaf,  and  give  to  the  tadpoles  every  day  or  two.  Bits  of 
hard-boiled  egg  should  be  given  now  and  then. 

Toads'  Eggs  and  Tadpoles 

Leading  thought — The  toad's  eggs  are  laid  in  strings  of  jelly  in  ponds. 
The  eggs  hatch  into  tadpoles  which  are  creatures  of  the  water,  breathing 
by  gills,  and  swimming  with  a  long  fin.  The  tadpoles  gradually  change  to 
toads,  which  are  air-breathing  creatures,  fitted  for  life  on  dry  land. 

Method — The  eggs  of  toads  may  be  found  in  almost  any  pond  about  the 
first  of  May  and  may  be  scraped  up  from  the  bottom  in  a  scoop-net.  They 
should  be  placed  in  the  aquarium  where  the  children  can  watch  the  stages 
of  development.  Soon  after  they  are  hatched,  a  dozen  or  so  should  be 
selected  and  placed  in  the  tadpole  aquarium  and  the  others  put  back  into 
the  stream.  The  children  should  observe  the  tadpoles  every  day,  watch- 
ing carefully  all  the  changes  of  structure  and  habit  which  take  place.  If 
properly  fed,  the  tadpoles  will  be  ready  to  leave  the  water  in  July,  as  tiny 

Observations — i.  Where  were  the  toads'  eggs  found  and  on  what 
date  ?  Were  they  attached  to  anything  in  the  water  or  were  they  floating 
free?  Are  the  eggs  in  long  strings?  Do  you  find  any  eggs  laid  in  jelly- 
like masses?  If  so,  what  are  they?  How  can  you  tell  the  eggs  of  toads 
from  those  of  frogs? 

2.  Is  the  jellylike  substance  in  which  the  eggs  are  placed  clear  or 
discolored?  What  is  the  shape  and  the  size  of  the  eggs?  A  little  later 
how  do  they  look?  Do  the  young  tadpoles  move  about  while  they  are 
still  in  the  jelly  mass? 

3.  Describe  how  the  little  tadpole  works  its  way  out  from  the  jelly 
covering.  Can  you  distinguish  then  which  is  head  and  which  is  tail? 
How  does  it  act  at  first?     Where  and  how  does  it  rest? 

4.  Can  you  see  with  the  aid  of  a  lens  the  little  fringes  on  each  side  of 
the  neck?  What  are  these?  Do  these  fringes  disappear  a  little  later? 
Do  they  disappear  on  both  sides  of  the  neck  at  once?     What  becomes  of 

Batrachian  Study 


Toad  development  in  a  single  season  (iQoj). 
1-18.  Changes  and  growth  from  April  to  November       9-14,  Different  sizes,  July  30    1903 
1-13    Development  m  25  to  60  days  15-18  DUlerent  sizes,  October  21.  1903 

10  . 1 1 .  The  same  tadpole,  1 1  is  47  hours  older  than  10 
12,  13,  The  same  tadpole,  13  is  47  hours  older  than  12 
Photo  by  S.  H.  Gage. 

1 88  Handbook  of  N ature-Study 

them?     How  does  the  tadpole  breathe?     Can  you  see  the  little  hole  on 
the  left  side,  through  which  the  water  used  for  breathing  passes? 

5.  How  does  the  tail  look  and  how  is  it  used?  How  long  is  it  in 
proportion  to  the  body?     Describe  the  act  of  swimming. 

6.  Which  pair  of  legs  appears  first  ?  How  do  they  look?  When  they 
get  a  little  larger  are  they  used  as  a  help  in  swimming  ?  Describe  the  hind 
legs  and  feet. 

7.  How  long  after  the  hind  legs  appear  before  the  front  legs  or  arms 
appear  ?  What  happens  to  the  breathing-pore  when  the  left  arm  is  pushed 
through  ? 

8.  After  both  pairs  of  legs  are  developed  what  happens  to  the  tail? 
W^hat  becomes  of  it  ? 

9.  When  the  tadpole  is  very  young  can  you  see  its  eyes?  How  do 
they  look  as  it  grows  older?     Do  they  ever  bulge  out  like  toads'  eyes? 

10.  As  the  tadpole  gains  its  legs  and  loses  its  tail  how  does  it  change 
in  its  actions?  How  does  it  swim  now?  Does  it  come  oftener  to  the 
surface  ?     Why  ? 

11.  Describe  the  difference  between  the  front  and  the  hind  legs  and 
the  front  and  the  hind  feet  on  the  fully  grown  tadpole.  If  the  tail  or 
a  leg  is  bitten  off  by  some  other  creature  will  it  grow  again? 

The  Toad 

Leading  thought — The  toad  is  colored  so  that  it  resembles  the  soil  and 
thus  escapes  the  observation  of  its  enemies.  It  lives  in  damp  places  and 
eats  insects,  usually  hunting  them  at  night.  It  has  powerful  hind  legs 
and  is  a  vigorous  jumper. 

Method — Make  a  moss  garden  in  a  glass  aquarium  jar  thus:  Place 
some  stones  or  gravel  in  the  bottom  of  the  jar  and  cover  with  moss. 
Cover  the  jar  with  a  wire  screen.  The  moss  should  be  deluged  with 
water  at  least  once  a  day  and  the  jar  should  be  placed  where  the  direct 
sunlight  will  not  reach  it.     In  this  jar,  place  the  toad  for  study. 

Observations — i.  Describe  the  general  color  of  the  toad  above  and 
below.  How  does  the  toad's  back  look?  Of  what  use  are  the  warts  on 
its  back? 

2.  Where  is  the  toad  usually  found?  Does  it  feel  warm  or  cold  to  the 
hand?  Is  it  slimy  or  dry?  The  toad  is  a  cold-blooded  animal,  what  does 
this  mean? 

3.  Describe  the  eyes  and  explain  how  their  situation  is  of  special 
advantage  to  the  toad.  Do  you  think  it  can  see  in  front  and  behind  and 
above  all  at  the  same  time.  Does  the  bulge  of  the  eyes  help  in  this? 
Note  the  shape  and  color  of  the  pupil  and  iris.     How  does  the  toad  wink? 

4.  Find  and  describe  the  nostrils.  Find  and  describe  the  ear. 
Note  the  swelling  above  and  just  back  of  the  ear.  Do  you  know  the  use 
of  this? 

5.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  toad's  mouth?  Has  it  any  teeth?  Is 
the  toad's  tongue  attached  to  the  front  or  the  back  part  of  the  mouth? 
How  is  it  used  to  catch  insects? 

6.  Describe  the  "arms  and  hands."  How  many  "fingers"  on  the 
"hand  ?"     Which  way  do  the  fingers  point  when  the  toad  is  sitting  down  ? 

BatracJiian  Study  ig-. 

7.  Describe  the  legs  and  feet.  How  man}- toes  are  there?  What  is 
the  relative  length  of  the  toes  and  how  are  they  connected  ?  What  is  this 
web  between  the  toes  for?  Why  are  the  hind  legs  so  much  larger  than 
the  front  legs? 

8.  Will  a  toad  change  color  if  placed  upon  different  ccjlored  objects? 
How  long  does  it  take  it  to  do  this?  Of  what  advantage  is  this  to  the 
toad  ? 

9.  Where  does  the  toad  live?  When  it  is  disturbed  hcnv  does  it  act? 
How  far  can  it  jump  ?  If  very  frightened  does  it  flatten  out  and  lie  still  ? 
Why  is  this? 

10.  At  what  time  does  the  toad  come  out  to  hunt  insects?  How  does 
it  catch  the  insect?  Does  it  swallow  an  earthworm  head  or  tail  first? 
When  swallowing  an  earthworm  or  large  insect,  how  does  it  use  its 
hands?     How  does  it  act  when  swallowing  a  large  mouthful? 

1 1 ._  How  does  the  toad  drink  ?  Where  does  it  remain  during  the  day  ? 
Describe  how  it  burrows  into  the  earth. 

12.  What  happens  to  the  toad  in  the  winter?  What  does  it  do  in 
the  spring?     Is  it  a  good  swimmer?   How  does  it  use  its  legs  in  swimming? 

13.  How  does  the  toad  look  when  croaking?  What  sort  of  a  noise 
does  it  make? 

14.  Describe  the  action  of  the  toad's  throat  when  breathing.  Did 
you  ever  see  a  toad  shed  its  skin  ? 

15.  What  are  the  toad's  enemies?  How  does  it  act  when  caught  by 
a  snake?  Does  it  make  any  noise?  Is  it  swallowed  head  or  tail  first? 
What  means  has  it  of  escaping  or  defending  itself  from  its  enemies? 

16.  How  is  the  toad  of  great  use  to  the  farmer  and  gardener? 
References — "The  Life  History  of  the  Toad,"  by  S.  H.  Gage,  Cornell 

Nature-Study  Volume;    The  Frog  Book,  Dickerson. 

Supplementary  reading — "K'dunk,  the  fat  one,"  A  Little  Brother  to 
the  Bear,  Long. 

"In  the  early  years  ive  are  not  to  ieaeh  nature  as  science,  we  are  not  to  teach  it 
primarily  for  method  or  for  drill:  ive  are  to  teacJi  it  for  loving — atid  this  is  nature- 
study.      On  these  points  I  make  no  compromise." 

— L.  H. 

jQo  Haridbook  of  Nature-Study 


Teacher  s  Story 

"Ere  yet  the  earliest  warbler  wakes,  of  coming  spring  to  tell. 
From  every  marsh  a  chorus  breaks,  a  choir  invisible, 
As  if  the  blossoms  underground,  a  breath  of  utterance  had  found." — ^Tabb. 

SSOCIATED  with  the  first  songs  of  robin  and  bluebird, 
is  the  equally  delightful  chorus  of  the  spring  peepers, 
yet  how  infrequently  do  most  of  us  see  a  member  _  of 
this  invisible  choir!  There  are  some  creatures  which 
are  the  quintessence  of  the  slang  word  "cute''  which, 
interpreted,  means  the  pefection  of  Lilliputian  pro- 
portions, permeated  with  undaunted  spirit.  The 
chickadee  is  one  of  these,  and  the  tree-frog  is  another. 
I  confess  to  a  thrill  of  dehght  when  the  Picker- 
ing's hyla  Hfts  itself  on  its  tiny  front  feet,  twists 
its''  head  knowingly,  and  turns  on  me  the  full 
gaze  of  its  bronze-rimmed  eyes.  This  is  the 
tiniest  froglet  of  them  all,  being  little  more  than 
an  inch  long  when  fully  grown;  it  wears  the 
Greek  cross  in  darker  color  upon  its  back,  with 
some  stripes  across  its  long  hind  legs  which  join 
the  pattern  on  the  back  when  the  frog  is  "shut 
up,"  as  the  boys  say. 

The  reason  we  see  so  Httle  of  tree-frogs,  is 
because  they  are  protected  from  discovery  by 
their  color.  They  have  the  chameleon  power 
of  changing  color  to  match  their  background. 
The  Pickering's  hyla  will  effect  this  change  in 
twenty  minutes;  in  this  species,  the  darker 
lines   forming  the   cross  change   first,   givmg  a 

mottled  appearance  which  is  at  once  protective. 

I  have  taken  three  of  these  peepers,  all  of  them 

pale  yellowish  brown  with  gray   markings,   and 

have  placed  one  upon  a  fern,   one  on   dark  soil 

and  one  on  the  purple  bud  of  a  flower.     Withm 

half  an  hour,  each  matched  its  surroundings  so 

closely,  that  the  casual  eye  would    not    detect 

them.  '  The  song  of  the   Pickering's  hyla  is   a 

resonant  chirp,  very  stirring  when  heard  nearby; 

it  sounds  somewhat  like  the  note  of  a  water  bird. 

How  such  a  small  creature  can  make  such  a  loud 

noise,  is  a  mystery.     The  process,  however,  may 

be  watched  at  night  by  the  light  of  a   lamp,  as 

none   of  the  tree-frogs  seem  to  pay  any  atten- 
tion  to   an  artificial  light;   the  thin'  membrane 

beneath  the  throat  swells  out  until    it    seems 

almost  large  enough  to  balloon  the  little  chap  off 

his  perch.     No  wonder  that,  with  such  a  sound- 
ing-sac. the  note  is  stirring.     There  are   several 

species  of  tree-frogs  that  trill  in  the   branches 

Sitting  for  their  pictures. 

Pickering's  Hyla. 

Photo  by  Cyrus  Crosby. 

Batrachian  Study 


above  our  heads  all  summer,  and  their  songs  are  sometimes  mistaken  for 
those  of  the  cicada,  which  is  far  more  shrill. 

The  tree-frogs  have  toes  and  fingers  ending  in  little  round  discs  which 
secrete  at  will  a  substance  by  means  of  which  they  can  cling  to  vertical 
surfaces,  even  to  glass.  In  fact,  the  way  to  study  these  wonderful  feet  is 
when  the  frog  is  climbing  up  the  sides  of  the  glass  jar.  The  fingers  are 
arranged,  two  short  inside  ones,  a  long  one,  and  another  short  one  outside. 
The  hind  feet  have  three  shorter  inside  toes  quite  far  apart,  a 
long  one  at  the  tip  of  the  foot  and  a  shorter  one  outside.  When  climbing 
a  smooth  surface  hke  glass,  the  toes  are  spread  wide  apart,  and  there 
are  other  httle  clinging  discs  on  their  lower  sides,  although  not  so 
large  as  those  at  the  tips.  It  is  by  means  of  these  sticky,  disc-Hke  toes 
that  the  tree-frogs  hold  themselves  upon  the  tree  trunks. 

The  whole  body  of  the  tree-frog  is  covered  with  little  tubercles, 
which  give  it  a  roughened  appearance.  The  eyes  are  black  with  the  iris 
of  reddish  color.  The  tongue  is  like  that  of  other  frogs,  hinged  to  the 
front  of  the  lower  jaw;  it  is  sticky  and  can  be  thrust  far  out  to  capture 
insects,  of  which  the  tree-frogs  eat  vast  numbers. 

The  hylas  breathe  by  the  rapid  pulsation  of  the  membrane  of 
the  throat,  which  makes  the  whole  body  tremble.  The  nostrils  are 
two  tiny  holes  on  either  side  of  the  tip  of  the  snout.  The  ears  are  a 
little  below  and  just  behind  the  eyes,  and  are  in  the  form  of  a  circular 

The  eggls  of  the  spring  peepers  are  laid  in  ponds  during  April;  eac- 
egg  has  a  little  globe  of  jelly  about  it  and  is  fastened  to  a  ston 
or  a  water  pant.  The  tadpoles  are  small  and  delicate;  the  under  sidh 
of  the  body  is  reddish  and  shines  with  metallic  lustre.  These  fade 
poles  differ  from  those  of  other  frogs  in  that  they  oftene 
leave  the  water  while  yet 
the  tail  is  still  quite  long. 
In  summer,  they  may  be 
found  among  the  leaves  and 
moss  around  the  banks 
of  ponds.  They  are  in- 
defatigable in  hunting  for 
gnats,  mosquitoes  and  ants; 
their  destruction  of  mosqui- 
toes, as  pollywogs  and  as 
grown  up  frogs,  renders  them 
of  great  use  to  us.  The  voice 
of  this  peeper  may  be  heard 
among  the  shrubs  and  vines 
or  in  trees  during  late  sum- 
mer and  until  November. 
The  little  creatures  sleep  be- 
neath moss  and  leaves 
during  the  winter,  waking  to 
give  us  the  earliest  news  of 

Tree-frog  tadpoles. 

102  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  Tree-frog  or  Tree-toad 

Leading  thought — The  prettiest  part  of  the  spring  chorus  of  the  frog 
ponds  is  sung  by  the  tree-frogs.  These  httle  frogs  have  the  tips  of 
their   toes    specially  fitted  for  climbing  up  the  sides  of  trees. 

Method — Make  a  moss  garden  in  an  aquarium  jar  or  a  two-quart  can. 
Place  stones  in  the  bottom  and  moss  at  one  side,  leaving  a  place  on 
the  other  side  for  a  tiny  pond  of  water.  In  this  garden  place  a  tree- 
frog  and  cover  the  jar  with  mosquito  netting  and  place  in  the  shade. 
The  frogs  may  be  foundby  searching  the  banks  of  a  pond  at  night 
with  a  lantern.  However,  this  lesson  is  usually  given  when  by 
accident  the  tree-frog  is  discovered.  Any  species  of  tree-frog  will  do;  but 
the  Pickering's  hyla,  known  everywhere  as  the  spring  peeper,  is  the  most 
interesting  species  to  study. 

Observations — i.  How  large  is  the  tree-frog?  What  is  its  color? 
Describe  the  markings. 

2.  Place  the  tree-frog  on  some  light-colored  surface  like  a  piece  of 
white  blotting  paper.  Note  if  it  changes  color  after  a  half  hour.  Later 
place  it  upon  some  dark  surface.  Note  if  it  changes  color  again.  How 
does  this  power  of  changing  color  benefit  the  tree-frog?  Place  a  tree-frog 
on  a  piece  of  bark.     After  a  time  is  it  noticeable? 

3  Describe  the  eyes.  Note  how  Httle  the  tree-frog  turns  its  head 
to  see  anything  behind  it.  Describe  its  actions  if  its  attention  is  attracted 
to  anything.      What  color  is  the  pupil?     The  iris? 

4.  Note  the  movement  of  breathing.  Where  does  this  show  the  most? 
Examine  the  delicate  membrane  beneath  the  throat.  What  has  this  to 
do  with  the  breathing? 

5.  What  is  the  tree-frog's  note?  At  what  time  of  day  does  it  peep? 
At  what  time  of  year?     Describe  how  the  frog  looks  when  peeping. 

6.  How  does  the  tree-frog  climb?  When  it  is  climbing  up  a  vertical 
surface  study  its  toes.  How  many  on  the  front  foot''  How  are  they 
arranged?  How  many  toes  on  the  hind  foot?  Sketch  the  front  and  hind 
feet.  How  do  the  toe-discs  look  when  pressed  against  the  glass?  How 
does  it  manage  to  make  the  discs  cling  and  then  let  go?  Are  there  any 
more  discs  on  the  under  side  of  the  toes?  Is  there  a  web  between  the  toes 
of  the  hind  feet ?     Of  the  front  feet ? 

7 .  Look  at  a  tree-frog  very  closely  and  describe  its  nostrils  and  its  ears. 
8'.      Are  the  tree-frogs  good  jumpers?     What  is  the  size  and  length  of 

the  hind  legs  as  compared  with  the  body? 

9.  When  and  where  are  the  eges  of  the  tree-frog  laid?  How  do  they 

10.  How  do  the  tree-frog  tadpoles  differ  from  other  tadpoles? 
Describe  them  if  you  have  ever  seen  them.  In  what  situations  do  they 

11.  Of  what  use  are  the  tree-frogs  to  us? 

References — "The  Life  History  of  the  Toad,"  Cornell  Nature  Study 
Volume,  S.  H.  Gage;  The  Frog  Book,  Dickerson;  Familiar  Life  of  Field 
and  Forest,  Mathews;  American  Natural  History,  Homaday;  Elemen- 
tary Zoology,  V.  L.  Kellogg;    From  River  Ooze  to  Tree-top,  Sharp. 

Batrachian  Study 



TeacJier's  Story 

HE  stroller  along  brooksides,  is  likely  to  be  surprised 
some  day,  at  seeing  a  bit  of  moss  and  earth  suddenly 
make  a  high  leap  and  a  far  one,  without  apparent 
provocation.  An  investigation  resolves  the  clump  of 
moss  into  a  brilliantly  green  and  yellow,  striped  frog, 
and  then  the  stroller  wonders  how  he  could  have  over- 
looked such  an  obvious  creature.  But  the  leopard 
frog  is  only  obvious  when  it  is  out  of  its  environment. 
The  common  green  frog  is  quite  as  well  protected  since  its  color  is  exactly 
that  of  green  pools.  Most  frogs  spend  their  lives  in  or  about  water,  and 
if  caught  on  land,  they  make  great  leaps  to  reach  their  native  element; 
the  leopard  frog  and  a  few  other  species  sometimes  wander  far  afield. 

In  form,  the  frog  is  more  slim  than  the  toad,  and  is  not  covered  with 
great  warts;  it  is  cold  and  slippery  to  the  touch.  The  fnjg's  only  chance 
of  escaping  its  enemies,  is  through  the  slipperiness  of  its  body  and  by 
making  long,  rapid  leaps.  As  a  jumper,  the  frog  is  much  more  powerful 
than  the  toad  because  its  hind  legs  are  so  much  larger  and  more  muscular, 
in  comparison  with  its  size.  The  first  toe  in  the  front  feet  of  the  leopard 
frog  is  much  swollen,  making  a  fat  thumb ;  the  mechanics  of  the  hind  legs 
make  it  possible  for  the  frog  to  feather  the  webbed  feet  as  it  swims.  On 
the  bottom  of  the  toes  are  hardened  places  at  the  joints,  and  sometimes 
others  besides,  which  give  the  foot  a  strong  hold  when  pushing  for  the 
jump.  The  toe  tips,  when  they  are  pressed  against  the  glass,  resemble 
slightly  the  tree-toads'  discs.  The  hind  foot  is  very  long,  while  on  the 
front  foot  the  toes  radiate  almost  in  a  circle.  The  foot  and  leg  are 
colored  like  the  back  of  the  body  above,  and  on  the  under  side  resemble 
the  under  parts. 

1^4  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  frog  is  likely  to  be  much  more  brightly  colored  than  the  toad,  and 
usually  has  much  of  green  and  yellow  in  its  dress.  But  the  frog  lives 
among  green  things,  while  it  is  to  the  toad's  advantage  to  be  the  color  of 
the  soil.  Frogs  also  have  the  chameleon  power  of  changing  color,  to 
harmonize  with  their  environment.  I  have  seen  a  very  green  leopard 
frog  change  to  a  slate-gray  when  placed  upon  slate-colored  rock.  The 
change  took  place  in  the  green  portions.  The  common  green  frog  will 
likewise  change  to  slate-color,  in  a  similar  situation.  A  leopard  frog 
changed  quickly  from  dark  green  to  pale  olive,  when  it  was  placed  in  the 
water  after  having  been  on  the  soil. 

The  eyes  of  frogs  are  very  prominent,  and  are  beautiful  when  observed 
closely.  "  The  green  frog  has  a  dark  bronze  iris  with  a  gleaming  gold  edge 
around  the  pupil,  and  around  the  outer  margin.  The  eye  of  the  leopard 
frog  is  darker;  the  iris  seems  to  be  black,  with  specks  of  ruddy  gold 
scattered  through  it,  and  there  is  an  outer  band  of  red-gold  around  the 
margin.  When  the  frog  winks,  the  nictitating  membrane  rises  from 
below  and  covers  the  whole  eye;  and  when  the  frog  makes  a  special  effort 
of  any  sort,  it  has  a  comical  way  of  drawing  its  eyes  back  into  its  head. 
When  trying  to  hide  at  the  bottom  of  the  aquarium,  the  leopard  species 
lets  the  eye-lids  fall  over  the  eyes,  so  that  they  do  not  shine  up  and  attract 

The  ear  is  in  a  similar  position  to  that  of  the  toad,  and  in  the  bullfrog, 
is  larger  than  the  eye.  In  the  green  frog,  it  is  a  dull  grayish  disc,  almost 
as  large  as  the  eye.  In  the  leopard  frog,  it  is  not  so  large  as  the  eye,  and 
has  a  giltish  spot  at  the  center. 

The  nostrils  are  small  and  are  closed  when  below  the  water,  as  may  be 
easily  seen  by  a  lens.  The  mouth  opens  widely,  the  comers  extending 
back  under  the  eye.  The  jaws  are  homy  and  are  armed  with  teeth, 
which  are  for  the  purpose  of  biting  off  food  rather  than  for  chewing  it. 
When  above  water,  the  throat  keeps  up  a  rythmic  motion  which  is  the 
process  of  breathing;  but  when  below  water  this  motion  ceases.  The 
food  of  frogs  is  largely  composed  of  insects,  that  frequent  damp  places 
or  that  live  in  the  water. 

The  sound-sacs  of  the  frogs,  instead  of  being  beneath  the  throat,  as  is 
the  case  with  toads  and  tree-frogs,  are  at  the  side  of  the  throat;  and  when 
inflated,  may  extend  from  just  back  of  the  eyes,  out  above  the  front  legs. 
The  song  is  characteristic,  and  pleasant  to  listen  to,  if  not  too  close  by. 
Perhaps  exception  should  be  made  to  the  lay  of  the  bullfrog,  which  like 
the  song  of  some  noted  opera  singers,  is  more  wonderful  than  musical; 
the  boom  of  the  bullfrog  makes  the  earth  fairly  quake.  If  we  seize  the 
frog  by  the  hind  leg,  it  will  usually  croak  and  thus  demonstrate  for  us, 
the  position  of  its  sound-sacs. 

In  addition  to  the  snakes,  the  frogs  have  inveterate  enemies  in  the 
herons  which  frequent  shallow  water,  and  eat  them  in  great  numbers. 
The  frogs  hibernate  in  mud  and  about  ponds,  burrowing  deep  enough  to 
escape  freezing.  In  the  spring,  they  come  up  and  sing  their  spring  songs 
and  the  mother  frogs  lay  their  eggs  in  masses  of  jelly  on  the  bottom  of  the 
pond,  usually  where  the  water  is  deeper  than  in  the  situations  where  the 
toads'  eggs  are  laid.  The  eggs  of  the  two  can  always  be  distinguished, 
since  the  toads'  are  laid  in  strings  of  jelly,  while  the  frogs'  are  laid  in  masses. 

It  is  amusing  to  watch  with  a  lens,  the  frog  tadpoles  seeking  tor  their 
microscopic  food  along  the  glass  of  the  aquanum.       There  are  horny 

Batrachian  Study 


tipper  and  lower  jaws,  the  latter  being  below  and  back  of  the  former.  The 
upper  jaw  moves  back  and  forth  slightly  and  rythmically,  but  the  drop- 
ping of  the  lower  jaw  opens  the  mouth.  There  are  three  rows  of  tiny 
black  teeth  below  the  mouth  and  one  row  above ;  at  the  sides  and  below 
these  teeth  are  little,  finger-like  fringes.  Fringes,  rows  of  teeth  and  jaws 
all  work  together,  up  and  down,  out  and  in,  in  the  process  of  breathing. 
The  nostrils,  although  minute,  are  present  in  the  tadpole  in  its  early 
stages.  The  pupil  of  the  eye  is  almost  circular  and  the  iris  is  usually 
yellow  or  copper-bronze,  with  black  mottling.  The  eyes  do  not  wink  nor 
withdraw.  The  breathing-pore  on  the  left  side,  is  a  hole  in  a  slight 

At  first,  the  tadpoles  of  the  frogs  and  toads  are  very  much  alike;  but 
later,  most  of  the  frog  tadpoles  are  lighter  in  color,  usually  being  olive- 
green,  mottled  with  specks  of  black  and  white.  The  frog  tadpoles  usually 
remain  much  longer  than  the  toads  in  the  tadpole  stage,  and  when  finally 
they  change  to  adults,  they  are  far  larger  in  size  than  the  toads  are,  when 
they  attain  their  jumping  legs. 

Frog's  eggs. 

The  Frog 

Leading  thought — The  frog  lives  near  or  in  ponds  or  streams.  It  is  a 
powerful  jumper  and  has  a  slippery  body.  Its  eggs  are  laid  in  masses  of 
jelly  at  the  bottom  of  ponds. 

Method — The  frog  may  be  studied  in  its  native  situation  by  the  pupils 
or  it  may  be  brought  to  the  school  and  placed  in  an  aquarium ;  however, 
to  make  a  frog  aquarium  there  needs  to  be  a  stick  or  stone  projecting 
above  the  water,  for  the  frog  likes  to  spend  part  of  the  time  entirely 
out  of  water  or  only  partially  submerged. 

Observations — i.  Where  is  the  frog  found?  Does  it  live  all  its  life  m 
the  water?     When  found  on  land  how  and  where  does  it  seek  to  escape? 

2.  Compare  the  form  of  the  frog  with  that  of  the  toad.  Describe 
the  skin,  its  color  and  texture.     Compare  the  skin  of  the  two. 

T,.  Describe  the  colors  and  markings  of  the  frog  on  the  upper  and 
on  the  under  side.  How  do  these  protect  it  from  observation  from  above  ? 
From  below?     How  do  we  usually  discover  that  we  are  in  the  vicinity  of  a 


4.  Describe  the  frog's  ears,  eyes,  nostrils  and  mouth. 

5.  Compare  its  "hands  and  feet"  with  those  of  the  toad.  Why  the 
difference  in  the  hind  legs  and  feet? 


Handbook  of  Nature- Study 

6  How  doe<=  the  frog  feel  to  your  hand?  Is  it  easy  to  hold  him? 
How  does  this  slipperiness  of  the  frog  benefit  it? 

7.  On  what  does  the  frog  feed?  What  feeds  on  it?  How  does  it 
escape  its  enemies? 

8.  What  sounds  does  the  frog  make?  Where  are  its  sound  sacs 
located  ?     How  do  they  look  when  they  are  inflated  ? 

9.  Is  the  frog  a  good  swimmer?  Is  it  a  better  jumper  than  the  toad? 

10.  Where  are  the  frog's  eggs  laid?     How  do  they  look? 

11.  Can  you  tell  the  frog  tadpoles  from  those  of  the  toad?  Which 
remains  longer  in  the  tadpole  stage?  Study  the  frog  tadpoles,  following 
the  questions  given  in  Lesson  XLIV. 

12.  What  happens  to  the  frog  in  winter? 


Once  011  a  time  there  iva'!  a  pool 
Fringed  all  about  ivith  flag-leaves  cool 
And  spotted  with  cow-lilies  garish. 
Of  frogs  and  pouts  the  ancient  parish. 
Alders  the  creaking  redivings  sink  on. 
Tussocks  that  house  blithe  Bob  o'  Lincoln, 
Hedged  round  the    iDiassailed  seclusion. 
Where  muskrats  piled  their  cells  Carthu- 
And  many  a  moss-embroidered  log. 
The  luatering-placc  of  summer  frog. 
Slept  and  decayed  tvitli  patioit  skill, 
As   watering-places   sometimes   will. 
Now  in  this  Abbey  of  Theleme, 
Which  realized  the  fairest  dream 
That  ever  dozing  bull-frog  had. 
Sunned,  on  a  half -sunk  lily  pad. 
There  rose  a  party  with  a  mission 
To  mend  the  polliwog's  conditio ti, 
Who  notified  the  selectmen 
To  call  a  meeting  there  and  then. 
"Some   kind   of   steps,"    they   said,    "are 

They  don't  come  on  so  fast  as  we  did: 
Let's  dock  their  tails;    if  that  don't  make 


Frogs  by  brevet,  the  Old  One  take  'em! 
That  boy,  that  came  the  other  day 
To  dig  some  flag-root  down  this  way. 
His  jack-knife  left,  and  'tis  a  sign 
That  Heaven  approves  of  our  design: 
'T  were  wicked  not  to  urge  the  step  on. 
When  Providence  has  sent  the  iveapon.". 
Old  croakers,  deacons  of  the  mire, 
That  led  the  deep  batrachian  choir, 
"Ukl   Uk!  Caronk!"  ivith  bass  that  might 
Have  left  Lablache's  out  of  sight. 
Shook  nobby  heads,  and  said  "No,  go! 
You'd  better  let  'em  try  to  grow: 
Old  Doctor  Time  is  slow,  but  still 
He  does  know  how  to  make  a  pill." 
But  vain  was  all  their  hoarsest  bass. 
Their  old  experience  out  of  place. 
And  spite  of  croaking  and  entreating 

The  vote  was  carried  in  marsh-meeting. 
"Lord  knows,  "protest  the  polliivogs, 
"We're  anxious  to  be  grown-up  frogs; 
But  don't  push  in  to  do  the  work 
Of  Nature  till  she  prove  a  shirk; 
'Tis  not  by  jumps  that  she  advances. 
But  wins  her  ivay  by  circumstances; 
Pray,   ivait  awhile,   until  you   know 
We're  so  contrived  as  not  to  grow; 
Let  Nature  take  her  own  direction. 
And  she'll  absorb  our  imperfection; 
You  mightn't  like  'em  to  appear  with. 
But  we  must  have  the  tilings  to  steer  with." 
"No,"  piped  the  party  of  reform, 
"All  great  results  are  ta'en  by  storm; 
Fate  holds  her  best  gifts  till  we  show 
We've  strength  to  make  her  let  them  go; 
The  Providence  that  ivorks  in  history, 
And  seems  to  some  folks  such  a  mystery. 
Does  not  creep  slowly  on,  incog.. 
But  moves  by  jumps,  a  mighty  frog; 
No  more  reject  the  Age's  chrism. 
Your  queues  are  an  anachronism; 
No  more  the  future's  promise  mock. 
But  lay  your  tails  upon  the  block. 
Thankful  that  we  the  means  have  voted 
To  have  you  thus  to  frogs  promoted." 
The  thing  was  done,  the  tails  were  cropped. 
And  home  each  philotadpole  hopped. 
In  faith  rewarded  to  exult. 
And  wait  ihe  beautiful  result. 
Too  soon  it  came;    oitr  pool,  so  long 
The  theme  of  patriot  bull-frog's  song. 
Next  day  was  reeking,  fit  to  smother. 
With   heads  arid  tails  that   missed  each 

other, — 
Here  snoutless  tails,  there  tailless  snouts; 
The  only  gainers  were  the  pouts. 

From  lower  to  the  higher  next. 
Not  to  the  top  is  Nature's  text; 
And  embryo  Good,  to  reach  full  stature. 
Absorbs  the  Evil  in  its  nature. 

— Lowell 

Batrachian  Study  loy 

Teacher's  Story 

FTER  a  rain  in  spring  or  summer,  we  see  these  little  orange-red 
creatures  sprawling  along  roads  or  woodland  paths,  and 
since  they  are  rarely  seen  except  after  rain,  the  wise  people 
of  old,  declared  they  rained  down,  which  was  an  easy  way 
for  explaining  their  presence.  But  the  newts  do  not  rain 
down,  they  rain  up  instead,  since  if  they  have  journeys  to  make  they 
must  needs  go  forth  when  the  ground  is  wet,  otherwise  they  would  dry 
up  and  die.  Thus,  the  newts  make  a  practice  of  never  going  out  except 
when  it  rains.  A  closer  view  of  the  eft  shows  plenty  of  peculiarities 
in  its  appearance  to  interest  us.  Its  colors  are  decidedly  gay,  the  body 
color  being  orange,  ornamented  with  vermilion  dots  along  each  side  of 
the  back,  each  red  dot  margined  with  tiny  black  specks;  but  the  eft  is 
careless  about  these  decorations  and  may  have  more  spots  on  one  side 
than  on  the  other.  Besides  these  vermilion  dots,  it  is  also  adorned 
with  black  specks  here  and  there,  and  especially  along  its  sides  looks  as 
if  it  had  been  peppered.  The  newt's  greatest  beauty  lies  in  its  eyes; 
these  are  black,  with  elongated  pupils,  almost  parallel  with  the  length  of 
the  head,  and  bordered  above  and  below  with  bands  of  golden,  shining  iris 
which  give  the  eyes  a  fascinating  brilliancy.  The  nostrils  are  mere  pin- 
holes in  the  end  of  the  snout. 

The  legs  and  feet  look  queerly  inadequate  for  such  a  long  body,  since 
they  are  short  and  far  apart.     There  are  four  toes  on  the  front  feet  and 
five  on  the  hind  feet,  the  latter  being  decidedly  pudgy.     The  legs  are 
thinner  where  they  join  the  body  and  wider  toward  the  feet.     The  eft 
can  move  very  rapidly  with  its  scant  equipment  of  legs.     It  has  a  mis- 
leading way  of  remaining  motionless  for  a  long  time  and  then  darting 
forward  like  a  flash,  its  long  body  falling  into  graceful  curves  as  it  moves. 
But  it  can  go  very  slowly  when  exploring;   it  then  places  its  little  hands 
cautiously  and  Hfts  its  head  as  high  as  its  short  arms  will  allow,  in  order  to 
take  observations.     Although  it  can  see  quite  well,  yet  on  an  unusual 
surface,  like  glass,  it  seems  to  feel  the  way  by  touching  its  lower  lip  to  the 
surface  as  if  to  test  it.     The  tail  is  flattened  at  the  sides  and  is  used  to 
twine  around  objects  in  time  of  need ;  and  I  am  sure  it  is  also  used  to  push 
the  eft  while  crawling,  for  it  curves  this  way  and  that  vigorously,  as  the 
feet  progress,  and  obviously  pushes  against  the  ground.     Then, "too,  the 
tail  is  an  aid  when,  by  some  chance,  the  eft  is  turned  over  on  its  back,  for 
with  its  help,  it  can  right  itself  speedily.     The  eft's  method  of  walking  is 
interesting;    it  moves  forward  one  front  foot  and  then  the  hind  foot  on 
the  other  side ;  after  a  stop  for  rest,  it  begins  just  where  it  left  oft"  when 
it  again  starts  on.     Its  beautiful  eyes  seem  to  serve  the  newt  well  indeed, 
for  I  find  that,  when  it  sees  my  face  approaching  the  moss  jar,  it  climbs 
promptly  over  to  the  other  side.     There  are  no  eyelids  for  the  golden 
eyes,  but  the  eft  can  pull  them  back  into  its  head  and  close  the  slit  after 
them,  thus  making  them  very  safe. 

The  eft  with  whose  acquaintance  I  was  most  favored,  was  not  yet 
mature  and  was  afraid  of  earthworms ;  but  he  was  very  fond  of  plant-lice 
and  it  was  fun  to  see  the  little  creature  stalking  them."  A  big  rose  plant- 
louse  would  be  squirming  with  satisfaction  as  it  sucked  the  juice  of  the 
leaf,    when  the    eft   would     catch    sight     of    it    and    become    greatly 


Hmidbook  of  Nature-Study 

excited,    evidently    holding     his     breath    since   the    pulsating   throat 
would  iDecome  rigid.     There    was  a  particularly  alert  attitude    of    the 

whole  front  part  of 
the  body  and  espec- 
ially of  the  eyes  and 
the  head;  then  the 
neck  would  stretch 
out  long  and  thin, 
the  orange  snout  ap- 
proach  stealthily 
within  half  an  inch 
of  the  smug  aphid, 
and  then  there  was  a 
flash  as  of  lightning, 
something  too  swift 
to  see  coming  out  of 
the  eft's  mouth  and 
swooping  up  the   un- 

D  ^    .  ..  ^        ,   .  lu-      ^1     ,  T  suspecting      louse. 

Red-s potted  newt  stalking  plant-ttce.  rp,  ,1  ■,■,■, 

^  ^  ihen  there  would  be 

a  gulp  or  two  and  all  would  be  over.     If  the  aphid  happened  to  be  a  big 

one,  the  eft  made  visible  effort  to  swallow  it.     Sometimes   his   eftship 

would  become  greatly  excited  when  he  first  saw  the  plant-louse,  and  he 

would  sneeze  and  snort  in  a  very  comical  way,  like  a  dog,  when  eager 

for  game. 

The  following  is  the  history  of  this  species  as  summarized  from  Mrs.  S. 
H.  Gage's  charming  "Story  of  Little  Red  Spot."  The  egg  was  laid  in  some 
fresh  water  pond  or  the  still  borders  of  some  stream  where  there  is  a 
growth  of  water  weed.  The  egg,  which  is  about  the  size  of  a  small  pea, 
is  fastened  to  a  water  plant.  It  is  covered  with  a  tough  but  translucent 
envelope,  and  has  at  the  center  a  little  yellowish  globule.  In  a  little  less 
than  a  month  the  eft  hatches,  but  it  looks  very  different  from  the  form 
with  which  we  are  most  familiar.  It  has  gray  stripes  upon  its  sides  and 
three  tiny  bunches  of  red  gills  on  each  side,  just  back  of  its  broad  head. 
The  tail  is  long  and  very  thin,  surrounded  by  a  fin;  it  is  an  expert  swim- 
mer and  breathes  water  as  does  a  fish.  After  a  time,  it  becomes  greenish 
above  and  buff  below,  and  by  the  middle  of  August  it  develops  legs  and 
has  changed  its  form  so  that  it  is  able  to  live  upon  land;  it  no  longer  has 
gills  or  fin ;  soon  the  coat  changes  to  the  bright  orange  hue  which  makes 
the  little  creature  so  conspicuous. 

The  newt  usually  keeps  hidden  among  moss,  or  under  leaves,  or  in 
decaying  wood,  or  other  damp  and  shady  places;  but  after  a  rain,  when 
the  whole  world  is  damp,  it  feels  confidence  enough  to  go  out  in  the  open, 
and  hunt  for  food.  For  two  and  a  half  years  it  lives  upon  land  and  then 
returns  to  the  water.  When  this  impulse  comes  upon  it,  it  may  be  far 
from  any  stream;  but  it  seems  to  know  instinctively  where  to  go.  Soon 
after  it  enters  the  water,  it  is  again  transformed  in  color,  becoming  olive- 
green  above  and  buff  below,  although  it  still  retains  the  red  spots  along 
the  back,  as  mementos  of  its  land  life;  and  it  also  retains  its  pepper-like 
dots.  Its  tail  develops  a  fin  which  extends  along  its  back  and  is  some- 
what ruffled.  In  some  mysterious  way  it  develops  the  power  to  again 
breathe  the  air  which  is  mixed  with  water. 

Batrachian  Study 


The  male  has  the  hmd  legs  very  large  and  flat;  the  female  is  lighter 
in  color  and  has  more  delicate  and  smaller  legs.  It  is  here  in  the  water 
that  the  efts  find  their  mates  and  finish  careers  which  must  have  surely 
been  hazardous.  During  its  long  and  varied  life,  the  eft  often  sheds  its 
skin  like  the  snake;   it  has  a  strange  habit  of  swallowing  its  cast-ofi[  coat. 

The  Newt,  Eft,  or  "Salamander" 

Leading  thought — The  newts  change  their  form  three 
times  to  fit  different  modes  of  life.  They  are  born  in  the 
water  and  at  first  have  fins  and  gills  like  fishes.  They  then 
live  on  land,  and  have  lungs  for  breathing  air  and  lose 
their  fins ;  later  they  go  back  to  the  water  and  again 
develop  the  power  of  breathing  the  oxygen  contained  in 
water,  and  also  a  fin. 

Method — The  little,  orange  eft  or  red-spotted  salaman- 
der may  be  kept  in  an  aquarium  which  has  in  it  an 
object,  as  a  stone  or  a  clump  of  moss  which  projects  above 
the  water.  For  food  it  should  be  given  small  earthworms 
or  leaves  covered  with  plant  lice.  In  this  way  it  maybe  vermilion 
studied  at  leisure.  "i"'"^^  -  "^"'^ 

Early  stage  of 

Observations — i.   Look  at  the  eft  closely.     Is  it  all  the 



IS  of 

ked  to 

same  color?  How  many  spots  upon  its  back  and  what  water  plant. 
colors  are  they?  Are  there  the  same  number  of  spots  on  Drawn  by  Anna 
both  sides?      Are  there  any  spots  or   dots    besides  these  "^^ 

larger  ones?     How  does  the  eft  resemble  a  toad? 

2.  Is  the  head  the  widest  part  of  the  body?  Describe  the  eyes,  the 
shape  and  color  of  the  pupil  and  of  the  iris.  How  does  the  eft  wink? 
Do  you  think  it  can  see  well? 

3 .  Can  you  see  the  nostrils  ?     How  does  the  throat  move  and  why  ? 

4.  Are  both  pairs  of  legs  the  same  size?  How  many  toes  on  the  front 
feet?  How  many  toes  on  the  hind  feet?  Does  the  eft  toe-in  with  its 
front  feet  like  a  toad? 

5.  Doesit  move  more  than  one  foot  at  a  time  when  walking?  Does  it 
use  the  feet  on  the  same  side  in  two  consecutive  steps?  After  putting  for- 
ward the  right  front  foot  what  foot  follows  next  ?     Can  it  move  backward  ? 

6.  Is  the  tail  as  long  as  the  head  and  body  together?  Is  the  tail 
round  or  flat  at  the  sides?  How  is  it  used  to  help  the  eft  when  traveling? 
Does  the  tail  drag  or  is  it  lifted,  or  does  it  push  by  squirming? 

7.  How  does  the  eft  act  when  startled?  Docs  it  examine  its  sur- 
roundings?    Do  you  think  it  can  see  and  is  afraid  of  you? 

8.  Why  do  we  find  these  creatures  only  during  wet  weather?  Why 
do  people  think  they  rain  down? 

9.  What  does  the  eft  eat  ?     How  does  it  catch  its  prey  ? 
its  skin  ?     How  many  kinds  of  efts  have  you  seen  ? 

10.  From  what  kind  of  egg  does  the  eft  hatch?  When  is  this  egg 
laid?     How  does  it  look?     On  what  is  it  fastened? 

1 1 .  How  many  times  during  its  fife  does  the  orange  eft  change  color? 
What  part  of  its  Hfe  is  spent  upon  land  ?  What  changes  take  place  in  its 
form  when  it  leaves  the  water  for  life  upon  land,  and  what  changes  take 
place  in  its  structure  when  it  returns  to  the  water? 

Does  it  shed 

2  00 

Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Yet  ivhen  a  cliild  and  barefoot;   I  more  than  once,  at  morn, 
Have  passed,  I  thought,  a  ivhiplash  unhraided  in  the  sun, 
When,  stooping  to  secure  it,  it  wrinkled,  and  was  gone. 

— Emily  Dickinson. 

F  the  teacher  couid  bring  herself  to  take  as  much  interest  as 
did  Mother  Eve  in  that  "subtile  animal,"  as  the  Bible  calls 
the  serpent,  she  might,  through  such  interest,  enter  the 
paradise  of  the  boyish  heart  instead  of  losing  a  paradise  of 
her  own.  How  many  teachers,  who  have  an  aversion  for 
snakes,  are  obliged  to  teach  small  boys  whose  pet  diversion 
is  capturing  these  living  ribbons  and  bringing  them  into 
the  schoolroom  stowed  away  not  too  securely  in  pockets! 
In  one  of  the  suburban  Brooklyn  schools,  boys  of  this  ilk  sought  to 
frighten  their  teacher  with  their  weird  prisoners.  But  she  was  equal  to 
the  occasion,  and  surprised  them  by  declaring  that  there  were  many 
interesting  things  to  be  studied  about  snakes,  and  forthwith  sent  to  the 
library  for  books  which  discussed  these  reptiles;  and  this  was  the  begin- 
ning of  a  nature-study  club  of  rare  efficiency  and  enterprise. 

There  are  abroad  in  the  land,  many  errors  concerning  snakes.  Most 
people  believe  that  they  are  all  venomous,  which  is  far  from  true.  The 
rattlesnake  still  holds  its  own  in  rocky,  mountainous  places  and  the 
moccasin  haunts  the  bayous  of  the  southern  coast;  however,  in  most 
locaHties,  snakes  are  not  only  harmless  but  are  beneficial  to  the  farmer. 
The  superstition  that  if  a  snake  is  killed,  its  tail  will  live  until  sun-down,  is 
general  and  has  but  slender  foundation  in  the  fact  that  snakes,  being 
lower  in  their  nerve-organization  than  mammals,  the  process  of  death  is  a 
slow  one.  Some  people  firmly  believe  that  snakes  spring  or  jump  from 
the  ground  to  seize  their  prey,  which  is  quite  false  since  no  snake  jumps 
clear  of  the  ground  as  it  strikes,  nor  does  it  spring  from  a  perfect  coil. 
Nor  are  snakes  sHmy,  quite  to  the  contrary,  they  are  covered  with  per- 
fectly dry  scales.  But  the  most  general  superstition  of  all  is  that,_when 
a  snake  thrusts  out  its  tongue,  it  is  an  act  of  animosity;  the  fact  is,  the 
tongue  is  a  sense  organ  and  is  used  as  an  insect  uses  its  feelers  or  antennae, 
and  the  act  is  also  supposed  to  aid  the  creature  in  heanng;  thus  when  a 
snake  thrusts  out  its  tongue,  it  is  simply  trying  to  find  out  about  its  sur- 
roundings and  what  is  going  on. 

Snakes  are  the  only  creatures  able  to  swallow  objects  larger  than 
themselves.  This  is  rendered  possible  by  the  elasticity  of  the  body  walls, 
and  the  fact  that  snakes  have  an  extra  bone  hinging  the  upper  to  the  lower 
jaw,  allowing  them  to  spread  widely;  the  lower  jaw  also  separates  at  the 
middle  of  its  front  edge  and  spreads  apart  sidewise.  In  order  to  force  a 
creature  into  a  "bag"  so  manifestly  too  small,  a  special  mechanism  is 
needed;  the  teeth  supply  this  by  pointing  backward,  and  thus  assist  in 
the  swallowing.  The  snake  moves  by  literally  walking  on  the  ends  of  its 
ribs,  which  are  connected  with  the  crosswise  plates  on  its  lower  side;_  each 
of  these  crosswise  plates  has  the  hind  edge  projecting  down  so  that  it  can 
hold  to  an  object.  Thus,  the  graceful,  noiseless  progress  of  the  snake,  is 
brought  about  by  many  of  these  crosswise  plates  worked  by  the  move- 
ment of  the  ribs. 

Reptile  Study  201 

Some  species  of  snakes  simply  chase  their  prey,  striking  at  it  and 
catching  it  in  the  open  month,  while  others,  like  the  black  snake,  wind 
themselves  about  their  victims  crushing  them  to  death.  Snakes  can  live 
a  long  time  without  food;  many  instances  on  record  show  that  they  have 
been  able  to  exist  a  year  or  more  without  anything  to  eat.  In  our  north- 
em  climate  they  hibernate  in  winter,  going  to  sleep  as  soon  as  the  weather 
becomes  cold  and  not  waking  up  until  spring.  As  snakes  grow,  they 
shed  their  skins;  this  occurs  only  two  or  three  times  a  year.  The  crested 
fly-catcher  adorns  its  nest  with  these  phantom  snakes. 

References — The  Reptile  Book,  by  Ditmars,  gives  interesting  accounts 
of  our  common  snakes;  Mathew's  Famihar  Life  of  Field  and  Forest  is 
also  valuable.  To  add  interest  to  the  snake  lessons  let  the  children  read 
"Kaas  Hunting"  and  "Rikki  Tikki  Tavi"  from  Kipling's  Jungle  Books. 


Teacher's  Story 

A  chipmunk,  or  a  sudden-whirring  quail, 

Is  startled  hy  my  step  as  on  I  fare. 
A  gartersnake  across  the  dusty  trail. 

Glances  ajid  —  is  not  there. — Riley. 

^ARTER  snakes  can  be  easily  tamed,  and  are  ready  to  meet 
friendly  advances  half  way.  A  handsome  yellow-striped, 
black  garter  lived  for  four  years  beneath  our  piazza  and 
was  very  friendly  and  unafraid  of  the  family.  The 
children  of  the  campus  made  it  frequent  visits,  and  never 
seemed  to  be  weary  of  watching  it;  but  the  birds  objected 
to  it  very  much,  although  it  never  attempted  to  reach  their  nests  in  the 
vine  above.  The  garter  snakes  are  the  most  common  of  all,  in  our  North- 
eastern States.  They  vary  much  in  color;  the  ground  color  may  be  olive, 
brown  or  black,  and  down  the  center  of  the  back  is  usually  a  yellow,  green 
or  whitish  stripe,  usually  bordered  by  a  darker  band  of  ground-color. 
On  each  side  is  a  similar  stripe,  but  not  so  brightly  colored;  sometimes 
the  middle  stripe,  and  sometimes  the  side  stripes  are  broken  into  spots  or 
absent;  the  lower  side  is  greenish  white  or  yellow.  When  fullv  grown 
this  snake  is  about  three  feet  in  length. 

The  garters  are  likely  to  congregate  in  numbers  in  places  favorable 
for  hibernation,  Hke  rocky  ledges  or  stony  side-hills.  Here  each  snake 
finds  a  safe  crevice,  or  makes  a  burrow  which  sometimes  extends  a  yard 
or  more  under  ground.  During  the  warm  days  of  Indian  summer,  these 
winter  hermits  crawl  out  in  the  middle  of  the  day  and  sun  themselves, 
retiring  again  to  their  hermitages  when  the  air  grows  chilly  toward  night; 
and  when  the  cold  weather  arrives,  they  go  to  sleep  and  do  not  awaken 
until  the  first  warm  days  of  spring;  then,  if  the  sun  shines  hot,  they 
crawl  out  and  bask  in  its  welcome  rays. 

After  the  warm  weather  comes,  the  snakes  scatter  to  other  localities 
more  favorable  for  finding  food,  and  thus  these  hibernating  places  are 
deserted  during  the  s.ummer.  The  banks  of  streams,  and  the  edges  of 
woods  are  places  which  furnish  snakes  their  food,  which  consists  of  earth- 
worms, insects,  toads,  salamanders,  frogs,  etc.     The  3'oung  are  bom  late 


Hmidbook  of  Nature-Stitdy 

in  July  and  are  about  six  inches  long  at  birth;  one  mother  may  have  in 
her  brood  from  eleven  to  fifty  snakelings;  she  stays  with  them  during 
the  fall  to  protect  them,  and  there  are  many  stories  about  the  way  the 
young  ones  run  down  the  mother's  throat  in  case  of  attack;  but,  as  yet, 
no  scientist  has  seen  this  act,  or  placed  it  on  record.  The  little  snakes 
shift  for  their  own  food,  catching  small  toads,  earthworms  and  insects. 
If  it  finds  food  in  plenty,  the  garter  snake  will  mature  in  one  year. 
Hawks,  crows,  skunks,  weasels  and  other  predacious  animals  seem  to  find 
the  garter  snake  attractive  food. 

Garter  snakes. 

The  Garter,  or  Garden,  vSxake 

Leading  ihoughi — The  garter  snake  is  a  common  and  harmless  little 
creature  and  has  many  interesting  habits  which  are  worth  studying. 

Method — A  garter  snake  may  be  captured  and  placed  in  a  box  with  a 
glass  cover  and  thus  studied  in  detail  in  the  schoolroom,  but  the  lesson 
should  begin  with  observations  made  by  the  children  on  the  snakes  in 
their  native  haunts. 

Observations — i.  What  are  the  colors  and  markings  of  your  garter 
snake?  Do  the  stripes  extend  along  the  head  as  well  as  the  body?  How 
long  is  it? 

2.  Describe  its  eyes,  its  ears,  its  nostrils  and  its  mouth 

3.  If  you  disturb  it  how  does  it  act?  Why  does  it  thrust  its  tongue 
out?     What   shape  is  its  tongue? 

Reptile  Study  203 

4.  In  what  position  is  the  snake  when  it  rests?  Can  you  see  how 
it  moves?  Look  upon  the  lower  side.  Can  you  see  the  Httle  plates 
extending  crosswise?  Do  you  think  it  moves  by  moving  these  plates? 
Let  it  crawl  across  your  hand,  and  see  if  you  can  tell  how  it  moves. 

5.  What  does  the  garter  snake  eat?  Did  you  ever  see  one  swallow 
a  toad?     A  frog?     Did  it  take  it  head  first  or  tail  first? 

6.  Where  does  the  garter  spend  the  winter?  How  early  does  it 
appear  in  the  spring? 

7 .  At  what  time  of  year  do  you  see  the  young  snakes  ?  Do  the  young 
ones  run  down  the  throat  of  the  mother  for  safety  when  attacked  ?  Does 
the  mother  snake  defend  her  young? 

8.  What  enemies  has  the  garter  snake? 

'No  life  in  earth  or  air  or  sky; 
The    sunbeams,    broken    silently. 
On  the  bared  rocks  around  me  lie, — 

Cold  rocks  with  half-wartned  lichens  scarred. 
And  scales  of  tnoss;  and  scarce  a  yard 
Away,  one  long  strip,  yellow-barred. 

Lost  in  a  cleft!  'Tis  but  a  stride 
To  reach  it,  thrust  its  roots  aside. 
And  lift  it  on  thy  stick  astride! 

Yet  stay!      That  moment  is  thy  grace! 
For  round  thee,  thrilling  air  and  space, 
A  chattering  terror  fills  the  place! 

A  sound  as  of  dry  bones  that  stir, 
In  the  dead  valley!  By  yon  fir  _ 
The  locust  stops  its  noon-day  whir! 

The  wild  bird  hears;   smote  with  the  sound. 

As  if  by  bullet  brought  to  ground 

On  broken  wing,  dips,  wheeling  round! 

The  hare,  transfixed,  with  trembling  lip, 
Halts  breathless,  on  pulsating  hip. 
And  palsied  tread,  and  heels  that  slip. 

Enough,  old  friend! — 'tis  thou.     Forget 
My  heedless  foot,  nor  longer  fret 
The  peace  with  thy  grim  castanet!" 

From  "Crotalus"    (The  Rattlesnake),  Bret  Harte. 

2  ©4 

Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


Teacher's  Story 

The  grass  divides  as  with  a  cotnb,  a  spotted  shajt  is  seen, 
And  then  it  doses  at  your  jeet,  and  opens  farther  on. 

— Emili  Dickinson. 

I  HIS  is  the  snake  which  is  said  to  milk  cows,  a  most 
absurd  behef ;  it  would  not  milk  a  cow  if  it  could,  and 
it  could  not  if  it  would.  It  has  never  yet  been  induced 
to  drink  milk  when  in  captivity;  and  if  it  were  very 
thirsty,  it  could  not  drink  more  than  two  teaspoonfuls 
of  milk  at  most;  thus  in  any  case,  its  depredations 
upon  the  milk  supply  need  not  be  feared.  Its  object, 
in  frequenting  milk  houses  and  stables,  is  far  other  than 
the  milking  of  cows,  for  it  is  an  inveterate  hunter  of 
rats  and  mice  and  is  thus  of  great  benefit  to  the  farmer.  It  is  a  constric- 
tor, and  squeezes  its  prey  to  death  in  its  coils. 

The  ground  color  of  the  milk  snake  is  pale  gray,  but  it  is  covered  with 
so  many  brown  or  dark  gray  saddle-shaped  blotches,  that  they  seem 
rather  to  form  the  ground-color;  the  lower  side  is  white,  marked  with 
square  black  spots  and  blotches.  The  snake  attains  a  length  of  about 
three  feet  when  fully  grown.  Although  it  is  called  commonly  the  spotted 
adder,  it  does  not  belong  to  the  adders  at  all,  but  to  the  family  of  the  king 

During  July  and  August,  the  mother  snake  lays  from  seven  to  twenty 
eggs;  they  are  deposited  in  loose  soil,  in  moist  rubbish,  in  compost  heaps, 
etc.  The  egg  is  a  symmetrical  oval  in  shape  and  is  about  one  and  one- 
eighth  inches  long  by  a  half  inch  in  diameter.  The  shell  is  soft  and  white, 
like  kid  leather,  and  the  egg  resembles  a  puffball.  The  young  hatch 
nearly  two  months  after  the  eggs  are  laid,  meanwhile  the  eggs  have  in- 
creased in  size  so  that  the  snakelings  are  nearly  eight  inches  long  when  they 
hatch.  The  saddle-shaped  blotches  on  the  young  have  much  red  in  them. 
The  milk  snake  is  not  venomous;  it  will  sometimes,  in  defence,  try  to 
chew  the  hand  of  the  captor,  but  the  wounds  it  can  inflict  are  very  slight 
and  heal  quickly. 

The  milk  snake,  or  spotted  adder. 

Reptile  Study  205 

The  Milk  Snake,  or  Spotted  Adder 

Leading  thought — The  milk  snake  is  found  around  stables  where  it 
hunts  for  rats  and  mice  but  never  milks  the  cows. 

Method — Although  the  snake  acts  fiercely,  it  is  perfectly  harmless  and 
maybe  captured  in  the  hands  and  placed  in  a  glass-covered  box  for  a  study 
in  the  schoolroom. 

Observations — i.  Where  is  the  milk  snake  found?  Why  is  it  called 
milk  snake?  Look  at  its  mouth  and  see  if  you  think  it  could  possibly 
suck  a  cow.     See  if  you  can  get  the  snake  to  drink  milk. 

2.  What  does  it  live  upon?  How  does  it  kill  its  prey?  Can  the 
milk  snake  climb  a  tree? 

3.  Where  does  the  mother  snake  lay  her  eggs?  How  do  the  eggs 
look?  How  large  are  they?  How  long  are  the  little  snakes  when  they 
hatch  from  the  egg^     Are  they  the  same  color  as  the  old  ones? 

4.  Describe  carefully  the  colors  and  markings  of  the  milk  snake  and 
explain  how  its  colors  protect  it  from  observation.  What  are  its  colors  on 
the  under  side? 

5.  Have  you  ever  seen  a  snake  shed  its  skin?  Describe  how  it  was 
done.  How  does  the  sloughed-off  skin  look?  What  bird  always  puts 
snake  skins  around  its  nest? 

/  have  the  same  objection  to  killing  a  snake  that  I  have  to  the  killing  of  any  other 
animal,  yet  the  most  hum.ane  man  I  know  never  omits  to  kill  one. 

A^<S-  5,  1853. 

The  mower  on  the  river  meadows,  when  he  comes  to  open  his  hay  these  days,  en- 
counters sotne  overgrown  water  adder,  full  of  young  {?)  and  bold  in  defense  of  its 
progeny,  and  tells  a  tale  when  he  comes  home  at  night  which  causes  a  shudder  to  run 
through  the  village — how  it  came  at  him  and  he  ran,  and  it  pursued  and  overtook  him, 
and  he  transfixed  it  with  a  pitchfork  and  laid  it  on  a  cock  of  hay,  but  it  revived  and  catne 
at  him  again.  This  is  the  story  he  tells  in  the  shops  at  evening.  The  big  snake  is  a  sort 
of  fabulous  animal.  It  is  always  as  big  as  a  man's  arm  and  of  indefinite  length. 
Nobody  knows  exactly  how  deadly  is  its  bite  but  nobody  is  known  to  have  been  bitten  and 
recovered.  Irishm.en  introduced  into  these  meadows  for  the  first  time,  on  seeing  a  stiake, 
a  creature  which  they  have  seen  only  in  pictures  before,  lay  doivn  their  scythes  and  run 
as  if  it  were  the  Evil  One  himself  and  cannot  be  induced  to  return  to  their  work.  They 
sigh  for  Ireland,  where  they  say  there  is  no  venomous  thing  that  can  hurt  you. 

— Thore.\u's  Journal. 


Hatidbook  of  Nature-Study 

Teacher's  Story 

rVERY  boy  that  goes  fishing,  knows  the  snake  found  com- 
monly about  mill-dams  and  wharves  or  on  rocks  and 
bushes  near  the  water.  The  teacher  will  have  accomplished 
a  great  work,  if  these  boys  are  made  to  realize  that  this 
snake  is  a  more  interesting  creature  for  study,  than  as  an 
object  to  pelt  with  stones. 

The  water  snake  is  a  dingy  brown  in  color,  with  cross- 
bands  of  brownish  or  reddish  brown  which  spread  out  into  blotches  at 
the  side.  Its  color  is  very  protective  as  it  lies  on  stones  or  logs  in  its 
favorite  attitude  of  sunning  itself.  It  is  very  local  in  its  habits,  and 
generally  has  a  favorite  place  for  basking  and  returns  to  it  year  after 
year  on  sunny  days. 

This  snake  lives  mostly  upon  frogs  and  salamanders  and  fish ;  however, 
it  preys  usually  upon  fish  of  small  value,  so  it  is  of  little  economicim.port- 
ance.  It  catches  its  victims  by  chasing,  and  seizing  them  in  its  jaws. 
It  has  a  very  keen  sense  of  smell  and  probably  traces  its  prey  in  this 
rtianner,  something  as  a  hound  follows  a  fox.  It  is  an  expert  swimmer, 
usually  'fitting  the  head  a  few  inches  above  the  water  when  swimming, 
although  it  is  able  to  dive  and  remain  below  the  water  for  a  short  time. 
The  water  snake  is  a  bluffer,  and,  when  cornered,  it  flattens  itself  and 
strikes  fiercely.  But  its  teeth  contain  no  poison  and  it  can  inflict  only 
slight  and  harmless  wounds.  When  acting  as  if  it  would  "rather  fight  than 
eat,"  if  given  a  slight  chance  to  escape,  it  will  flee  to  the  water  like  a 
"streak  of  greased  lightning,"  as  any  boy  will  assure  you. 

The  water  snake. 

Reptile  Study  207 

The  water  snake  attains  a  length  of  about  four  feet.  The  young  do 
not  hatch  from  eggs,  but  are  born  aUve  in  August  and  September;  they 
differ  much  in  appearance  from  their  parents  as  they  are  pale  gray  in 
color,  with  jet-black  cross-bands. 

The  Water  Snake 

Leading  thought — The  water  snake  haunts  the  banks  of  streams  because 
its  food  consists  of  creatures  that  live  in  and  about  water. 

Method — If  water  snakes  are  found  in  the  locality,  encourage  the  boys 
to  capture  one  without  harming  it,  and  bring  it  to  school  for  observation. 
However,  as  the  water  snake  is  very  local  in  its  habits,  and  haunts  the 
same  place  year  after  year,  it  will  be  better  nature-study  to  get  the  children 
to  observe  it  in  its  native  surroundings. 

Observations — i.  Where  is  the  water  snake  found?  How  large  is  the 
largest  one  you  ever  saw? 

2.  Why  does  the  water  snake  live  near  water?  What  is  its  food? 
How  does  it  catch  its  prey? 

3.  Describe  how  the  water  snake  swims.  How  far  does  its  head 
project  above  the  water  when  swimming?  How  long  can  it  stay  com- 
pletely beneath  the  water? 

4.  Describe  the  markings  and  colors  of  the  water  snake.  How  do 
these  colors  protect  it  from  observation?     How  do  the  young  look? 

5.  Does  each  water  snake  have  a  favorite  place  for  sunning  itself? 

6.  Where  do  the  water  snakes  spend  the  winter? 

May  12,  1S58. 

Found  a  large  water  adder  by  the  edge  of  Farmer's  large  miidhole,  which  abounds 
with  tadpoles  and  frogs,  on  which  it  was  probably  feeding.  It  was  sunning  on  the  bank 
and  would  face  me  a)id  dart  its  head  toward  me  when  I  tried  to  drive  it  from  the  water. 
It  is  barred  above,  but  indistinctly  when  out  of  the  water,  so  that  it  appears  almost 
uniformly  dark  brown,  but  in  the  water,  broad,  reddish  brown  bars  are  seen,  very  dis- 
tinctly alternating  with  very  dark-brown  ones.  The  head  was  very  flat  and  suddenly 
broader  than  the  neck  behind.  Beneath,  it  was  whitish  and  reddish  flesh-color.  It  was 
about  two  inches  in  diameter  at  the  thickest  part.  The  inside  of  its  mouth  and  throat 
was  pink.  They  are  tJie  biggest  and  most  formidable-looking  snakes  that  we  have.  It 
was  atvful  to  see  it  wind  along  the  bottom  of  the  ditch  at  last,  raising  ivreaths  of  mud 
amid  the  tadpoles,  to  which  it  must  be  a  very  sea-serpent.  I  aftencard  saw  another, 
running  under  Sam  Barrett's  grist-mill,  the  same  afternoon.  He  said  that  he  saw  a 
water-snake,  which  he  distinguished  from  a  black  snake,  in  an  apple  tree  near  by,  last 
year,  with  a  young  robin  in  its  mouth,  having  taken  it  from  the  }iest.  There  was  a  cleft 
or  fork  in  the  tree  which  enabled  it  to  ascend. 

— Thoreau's  Journal. 


Handbook  of  Xatiire-Stiidy 


Teacher's  Story 

TURTLE  is  at  heart  a  misanthrope ;  its  shell  is  in  itself  proof  of 
its  owner's  distrust  of  this  world.  But  we  need  not 
wonder  at  this  misanthropy,  if  we  think  for  a  moment 
of  the  creatures  that  lived  on  this  earth,  at  the  time 
when  turtles  first  appeared.  Almost  any  of  us  would 
have  been  glad  of  a  shell  in  which  to  retire,  if  we  had 
been  contemporaries  of  the  smilodon  and  other  monsters  of  earlier  geologic 

When  the  turtle  feels  safe  and  walks  abroad  for  pleasure,  his  head  pro- 
jects far  from  the  front  end  of  his  shell,  and  the  legs,  so  wide,  and  soft  that 
they  look  as  if  they  had  no  bones  in  them,  project  out  at  the  side,  while 
the  little,  pointed  tail  brings  up  an  undiginfied  rear;  but  frighten  him 
and  at  once  head,  legs  and  tail  all  disappear,  and  even  if  we  turn  him  over, 
we  see  nothing  but  the  tip  of  the  nose,  the  claws  of  the  feet  and  the  tail 
turned  deftly  sidcwise.  When  frightened,  he  hisses  threateningly;  the 
noise  seems  to  be  made  while  the  mouth  is  shut,  and  the  breath  emitted 
through  the  nostrils. 

Carapace  of  painted  terrapin  in  retirement. 

Plastron  of  same  terrapin. 

The  u])pcr  shell  of  the  turtle  is  called  the  carapace  and  the  lower  shell, 
the  plastron.  There  is  much  difference  in  the  different  species  of  turtles 
in  the  shape  of  the  upper  shell  and  the  size  and  shape  of  the  lower  one. 
In  most  species  the  carapace  is  sub-globular  but  in  some  it  is  quite  flat. 
The  upper  shell  is  grown  fast  to  the  backbone  of  the  animal,  and  the 
lower  shell  to  the  breast  bone.  The  markings  and  colors  of  the  shell  offer 
excellent  subjects  for  drawing.  The  painted  terrapin  has  a  red-mottled 
border  to  the  shell,  very  ornamental;  the  wood  turtle  has  a  shell  made  up 
of  ]jlates  each  of  which  is  ornamented  with  concentric  ridges ;  and  the  box- 
turtle  has  a  front  and  rear  trap-door,  hinged  to  the  plastron,  which  can 
be  pulled  up  against  the  carapace  when  the  turtle  wishes  to  retire,  thus 
covering  it  entirely. 

Reptile  Study 


The  turtle's  head  is  decidedly  snakelike.  Its  color  differs  with  differ- 
ent species.  The  wood  turtle  has  a  triangular,  homy  covering  on  the 
top  of  the  head,  in  which  the  color  and  beautiful  pattern  of  the  shell  are 
repeated;  the  underparts  are  brick-red  with  indistinct  yellowish  lines 
under  the  jaw.  The  eyes  are  black  with  a  yellowish  iris,  which  somehow 
gives  them  a  look  of  intelligence.  The  turtle  has  no  eyelids  like  our  own, 
but  has  a  nictitating  membrane  which  comes  up  from  below  and  com- 
pletely covers  the  eye ;  if  we  seize  the  turtle  by  the  head  and  attempt  to 
touch  its  eyes,  we  can  see  the  use  of  this  eyelid.  When  the  turtle  winks, 
it  seems  to  turn  the  eyeball  down  against  the  lower  lid. 

The  sense  of  smell  in  turtles  is  not  well  developed,  as  may  be  guessed 
by  the  very  small  nostrils,  which  are  mere  pin-holes  in  the  snout.  The 
mouth  is  a  more  or  less  hooked  beak,  and  is  armed  with  cutting  edges 
instead  of  teeth.  The  constant  pulsation  in  the  throat  is  caused  by  the 
turtle  swallowing  air  for  breathing. 

The  turtle's  legs,  al- 
though so  large  and  soft, 
have  bones  within  them, 
as  the  skeleton  shows. 
The  claws  are  long  and 
strong;  there  are  five 
claws  on  the  front  and 
four  on  the  hind  feet. 
Some  species  have  a  dis- 
tinct web  between  the 
toes;  in  others,  it  is  less 
marked,  depending  upon 
whether  the  species  lives 
mostly  in  water  or  out 
of  it.  The  color  of  the 
turtle's  body  varies  with 
the  species;  the  body  is 
covered  with  coarse, 
rough  skin  made  up  of 
various-sized  plates. 

The  enemies  of  turtles 
are  the  larger  fishes  and 
other  turtles.  Two  tur- 
tles should  never  be  kept 
in  the  same  aquarium, 
since  they  eat  each 
others'  tails  and  legs  with 
great  relish.'  They  feed 
upon  insects,  small  fish, 
or  almost  anything  soft- 
bodied  which  they  can 
find  in  the  water;  they 
are  especially  fond  of 
earthworms.  The  species  which  frequent  the  land,  feed  upon  tender 
vegetation  and  also  eat  berries.  In  an  aquarium,  a  turtle  should  be 
fed  earthworms,  chopped  fresh  beef,  lettuce  leaves  and  berries.  The 
wood  turtle  is  especially  fond  of  cherries. 

Boxy,  a  trained  turtle. 
Photo  by  Silas  Lottridge. 

2IO  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  aquarium  should  always  have  in  it  a  stone  or  some  other  object 
projecting  above  the  water,  so  that  the  turtle  may  climb  out,  if  it  chooses. 
In  winter,  turtles  bury  themselves  in  the  ooze  at  the  bottom  of  ponds  and 
streams.  Their  eggs  have  white  leathery  shells,  are  oblong  in  shape,  and 
are  buried  by  the  mother  in  the  sand  or  soil  near  a  stream  or  pond.  The 
long  life  of  turtles  is  a  well  authenticated  fact,  dates  carved  upon  their 
shells  show  them  to  have  attained  the  age  of  thirty  or  forty  years. 

The  following  are,  perhaps,  the  most  common  species  of  turtles: 

(a)  The  Snapping  Turtle — This  sometimes  attains  a  shell  14  inches 
long  and  a  weight  of  forty  pounds.  It  is  a  vicious  creature  and  inflicts  a 
severe  wound  with  its  sharp,  hooked  beak;  it  should  not  be  used  for  a 
nature-study  lesson  unless  the  specimen  is  very  young. 

(b)  The  Mud  Turtle — The  musk  turtle  and  the  common  mud  turtle 
both  inhabit  slow  streams  and  ponds;  they  are  truly  aquatic  and  only 
come  to  shore  to  deposit  their  eggs.  They  cannot  eat,  unless  they  are 
under  water,  and  they  seek  their  food  in  the  muddy  bottoms.  The 
musk  turtle  when  handled,  emits  a  very  strong  odor;  it  has  on  each 
side  of  the  head  two  broad  yellow  stripes.  The  mud  turtle  has  no 
odor.     Its  head  is  ornamented  with  greenish  yellow  spots. 

(c)  The  Painted  Terrapin,  or  Pond  Turtle — This  can  be  determined  by 
the  red  mottled  border  of  its  shell.  It  makes  a  good  pet,  if  kept  in  an 
aquarium  by  itself,  but  will  destroy  other  creatures.  It  will  eat  meat  or 
chopped  fish,  and  is  fond  of  earthworms  and  soft  insects. 

(d)  The  Spotted  Turtle — This  has  the  upper  shell  black  with  numerous 
round  yellow  spots  upon  it.  It  is  common  in  ponds  and  marshy  streams 
and  its  favorite  perch  is,  with  many  of  its  companions,  upon  a  log.  It 
feeds  under  water,  eating  insect  larvae,  dead  fish  and  vegetation.  It 
likes  fresh  lettuce. 

(e)  The  Wood  Terrapin — This  is  our  most  common  turtle ;  it  is  found 
in  damp  woods  and  wet  places,  since  it  lives  largely  upon  the  land.  Its 
upper  shell  often  reaches  a  length  of  six  and  one-half  inches  and  is  made 
up  of  many  plates,  ornamented  with  concentric  ridges.  This  is  the  turtle 
upon  whose  shell  people  carve  initials  and  dates  and  then  set  it  free.  All 
the  fleshy  parts  of  this  turtle,  except  the  top  of  the  head  and  the  limbs, 
are  brick-red.  It  feeds  on  tender  vegetables,  berries  and  insects.  It 
makes  an  interesting  pet  and  will  soon  learn  to  eat  from  the  fingers  of  its 

(f)  The  Box-Turtle — This  is  easily  distinguished  from  the  others, 
because  the  front  and  rear  portions  of  the  lower  shell  are  hinged  so  that 
they  can  be  pulled  up  against  the  upper  shell.  When  this  turtle  is 
attacked,  it  draws  into  the  shell  and  closes  both  front  and  back  doors,  and 
is  very  safe  from  its  enemies.  It  lives  entirely  upon  land  and  feeds  upon 
berries,  tender  vegetation  and  insects.     It  Hves  to  a  great  age. 

(g)  The  Soft-shelled  Turtle — These  are  found  in  streams  and  canals. 
The  upper  shell  looks  as  if  it  were  of  one  piece  of  soft  leather,  and  resem- 
bles a  griddle-cake.  Although  soft-shelled,  these  turtles  are  far  from  soft- 
tempered,  and  must  be  handled  with  care. 

Reptile  Study 


The  TiRTLE 

Leading  thought — 
The  turtle's  shell  is 
for  the  purpose  of 
protecting  its  owner 
from  the  attack  of 
enemies.  Some  tur- 
tles live  upon  land 
and  others  in  water. 

Method— A  turtle 
of  any  kind,  in  the 
schoolroom,  is  all 
that  is  needed  to 
make  this  lesson  in- 

Observaiio  ns — 
I .  How  much  can  you 
see  of  the  turtle  when 
it  is  walking  ?  If 
you  disturb  it  what 
does  it  do?  How 
much  of  it  can  you 
see  then?  Can  you 
see  more  of  it  from  the 
lower  side  than  the  upper?  What  is  the  advantage  to  the  turtle  of 
having  such  a  shell  ? 

2.  Compare  the  upper  shell  with  the  lower  as  follows:  How  are 
they  shaped  differently?  What  is  their  difference  in  color?  Would  it 
be  a  disadvantage  to  the  turtle  if  the  upper  shell  were  as  light  colored 
as  the  lower?  Why?  Make  a  d;awing  of  the  upper  and  the  lower  shell 
showing  the  shape  of  the  plates  of  w^hich  they  are  composed.  Where 
are  the  two  grown  together? 

3.  Is  the  border  of  the  upper  shell  different  from  the  central  portion 
in  color  and  markings?     Is  the  edge  smooth  or  scalloped? 

4.  How  far  does  the  turtle's  head  project  from  the  front  of  the  shell? 
What  is  the  shape  of  the  head?  With  what  colors  and  pattern  is  it 
marked?  Describe  the  eyes.  How  are  they  protected?  How  does  the 
turtle  wink?      Can  you  discover  the  little  e}-elid  which  comes  up  from 

A  snapping  turtle. 
Photo  by  J.  T.   Lloyd. 

below  to  cover  the  eye? 

Do  you  think  it  has  a  keen  sense 

what  does  it 
Whv  is  this 

5.  Describe  the  nose  and  nostrils, 
of  smell? 

6.  Describe  the  mouth.  Are  there  any  teeth?  With 
bite  off  its  food?  Describe  the  movement  of  the  throat, 
constant  pulsation? 

7.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  leg?  How  is  it  marked?  How  many 
claws  on  the  front  feet?  Are  any  of  the  toes  webbed?  On  which  feet  are 
the  webbed  toes?  Why  should  they  be  webbed?  Describe  the  way  a 
turtle  swims.     Which  feet  are  used  for  oars? 

8.  Describe  the  tail.  How  much  can  be  seen  from  above  when  the 
turtle  is  walking?  What  becomes  of  it,  when  the  turtle  withdraws  into 
its  shell  ? 

212  Hmidbook  of  Nature-Study 

g.  How  much  of  the  turtle's  body  can  you  see?  What  is  its  color? 
Is  it  rough  or  smooth  ? 

10.  What  are  the  turtle's  enemies?  How  does  it  escape  from  them? 
What  noise  does  the  turtle  make  when  frightened  or  angry? 

11.  Do  all  turtles  live  for  part  of  the  time  in  water?  What  is  their 
food  and  where  do  they  find  it?  Write  an  account  of  all  the  species  of 
turtles  that  you  know. 

12.  How  do  turtle  eggs  look?  Where  are  they  laid?  How  are  they 
hidden  ? 

Supplementaty  reading — "Turtle  Eggs  for  Agassiz,"  Dalles  Lore  Sharp, 
Altantic  Monthly,  Feb.,   1910. 


OR  some  inexplicable  reason,  the  word  animal,  in 
common  parlance,  is  restricted  to  the  mammals. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  bird,  the  fish,  the  insect 
and  the  snake  have  as  much  right  to  be  called  animals  as  has 
the  squirrel  or  the  deer.  And  while  I  believe  that  much 
freedom  in  the  matter  of  scientific  nomenclature  is  permissible 
in  nature-study,  1  also  believe  that  it  is  well  for  the  child  to 
have  a  clearly  defined  idea  of  the  classes  into  which  the  animal 
kingdom  is  divided;  and  I  would  have  him  gain  this  knowledge 
by  noting  how  one  animal  differs  from  another  rather  than  by 
studying  the  classification  of  animals  in  books.  He  sees 
that  the  fish  differs  in  many  ways  from  the  bird  and  that  the 
toad  differs  from  the  snake;  and  it  will  be  easy  for  him  to  grasp 
the  fact  that  the  mammals  differ  from  all  other  animals  in  that 
the  young  are  nourished  by  milk  produced  for  this  purpose  in  the  breasts 
of  the  mother;  when  he  understands  this,  he  can  comprehend  how  such 
diverse  forms  as  the  whale,  the  cow,  the  bat,  and  human  beings  are  akin. 

Mammal  Study 


A  cottoii'tail  rabbit. 

Teacher's  Story 

"The  Bunnies  are  a  jeeHe  folk  whose  weakness  is  their  strength. 
To  shun  a  gun  a  Bun  will  run  to  almost  aiiy  length." — Oliver  Herford. 

T  IS  well  for  Molly  Cotton-tail  and  her  family  that  they 
have  learned  to  shun  more  than  guns  for  almost  every 
predatory  animal  and  bird  makes  a  dinner  of  them  on 
every  possible  occasion.  But  despite  these  enemies, 
moreover,  with  the  addition  of  guns,  men  and  dogs, 
the  cotton-tail  lives  and  flourishes  in  our  midst.  A 
"Molly"  raised  two  families  last  year  in  a  briar-patch 
back  of  our  garden  on  the  Cornell  Campus,  where  dogs 
of  many  breeds  abound;  and  after  each  fresh  fall  of 
snow  this  winter  we  have  been  able  to  trace  our 
bunny  neighbors  in  their  night  wanderings  around 
the  house,  beneath  the  spruces  and  in  the  orchard. 
The  track  consists  of  two  long  splashes,  paired, 
little  behind  them,  two  smaller  ones;  the 
as  a  boy  uses  a  vaulting  pole  and 
hind  feet  on  each  side  and  ahead  of  them;  owing  to  the  fact  that  the 
bottoms  of  the  feet  are  hairy  the  print  is  not  clear-cut.  When  the  rabbit 
is  not  in  a  hurry  it  has  a  peculiar  lope,  but  when  frightened  it  makes  long 
jumps.  The  cotton-tails  are  night  wanderers  and  usually  remain  hidden 
during  the  day.  In  summer,  they  feed  on  clover  or  grass  or  other  juicy 
herbs  and  show  a  fondness  for  sweet  apples  and  fresh  cabbage;    in  our 

and  between  and  a 
uses   its   front   feet 

lands    both 

214  Hatidhook  of  Naiiire-Stvidy 

garden  last  summer  Molly  was  very  considerate.  She  carefully  pulled 
all  the  grass  out  of  the  garden-cress  bed,  leaving  the  salad  for  our  enjoy- 
ment. In  winter,  the  long,  gnawing  teeth  of  the  cotton-tail  are  some- 
times used  to  the  damage  of  fruit  trees  and  nursery  stock  since  the  rabbits 
are  obliged  to  feed  upon  bark  in  order  to  keep  alive. 

The  long,  strong  hind  legs  and  the  long  ears  tell  the  whole  bunny 
story.  Ears  to  hear  the  approach  of  the  enemy,  and  legs  to  propel  the 
listener  by  long  jumps  to  a  safe  retreat.  The  attitude  of  the  ears  is  a  good 
indication  of  the  bunny's  state  of  mind ;  if  they  are  set  back  to  back  and 
directed  backward,  they  indicate  placidity,  but  a  placidity  that  is  always 
on  guard;  if  lifted  straight  up  they  signify  attention  and  anxiety;  if  one 
is  bent  forward  and  the  other  backward  the  meaning  is:  "Now  just 
where  did  that  sound  come  from?"  When  running  or  when  resting  in  the 
form,  the  ears  are  laid  back  along  the  neck.  When  the  cotton-tail  stands 
up  on  its  haunches  with  both  ears  erect,  it  looks  very  tall  indeed. 

Not  only  are  the  ears  always  alert,  but  also  the  nose;  the  nostrils  are 
partially  covered  and  in  order  to  be  always  sure  of  getting  every  scent 
they  wabble  constantly,  the  split  upper  Hp  aiding  in  this  performance; 
when  the  rabbit  is  trying  to  get  a  scent  it  moves  its  head  up  and  down  in  a 
sagacious,  apprehensive  manner. 

The  rabbit  has  an  upper  and  lower  pair  of  incisors  like  other  rodents, 
but  on  the  upper  jaw  there  is  a  short  incisor  on  each  side  of  the  large 
teeth ;  these  are  of  no  use  now  but  are  inherited  from  some  ancestor  which 
found  them  useful.  There  are  at  the  back  of  each  side  of  the  upper  jaw 
six  grinding  teeth,  and  five  on  each  side  of  the  lower  jaw.  The  split 
upper  lip  allows  the  free  use  of  the  upper  incisors.  The  incisors  are  not 
only  used  for  taking  the  bark  from  trees,  but  also  for  cutting  grass  and 
other  food.  The  rabbit  has  a  funny  way  of  taking  a  stem  of  grass  or 
clover  at  the  end  and  with  much  wabbling  of  lips,  finally  taking  it  in, 
meanwhile  chewing  it  with  a  sidewise  motion  of  the  jaws.  The  rabbits'  , 
whiskers  are  valuable  as  feelers,  and  are  always  kept  on  the  qui  vive  for 
impressions;  when  two  cotton-tails  meet  each  other  amicably,  they  rub 
whiskers  together.  The  eyes  are  large  and  dark  and  placed  on  the  bulge 
at  the  side  of  the  head,  so  as  to  command  the  view  both  ways.  Probably 
a  cotton-tail  winks,  but  I  never  caught  one  in  the  act. 

The  strong  hind  legs  of  the  rabbit  enable  it  to  make  prodigious  jumps, 
of  eight  feet  or  more ;  this  is  a  valuable  asset  to  an  animal  that  escapes 
its  enemies  by  running.  The  front  feet  are  short  and  cannot  be  turned 
inward  like  those  of  the  squirrel,  to  hold  food.  There  are  five  toes  on  the 
front  feet,  and  four  on  the  hind  feet;  the  hair  on  the  bottom  of  the  feet  is 
a  protection,  much  needed  by  an  animal  which  sits  for  long  periods  upon 
the  snow.  When  sleeping,  the  front  paws  are  folded  under  and  the  rabbit 
rests  on  the  entire  hind  foot,  with  the  knee  bent,  ready  for  a  spring  at  the 
slightest  alarm;  when  awake,  it  rests  on  the  hind  feet  and  front  toes;  and 
when  it  wishes  to  see  if  the  coast  is  clear,  it  rises  on  its  hind  feet,  with 
front  paws  drooping. 

The  cotton-tail  has  a  color  well  calculated  to  protect  it  from  observa- 
tion ;  it  is  brownish-gray  on  the  back  and  a  Httle  lighter  along  the  sides, 
grayish  under  the  chin  and  whitish  below;  the  ears  are  edged  with  black, 
and  the  tail  when  raised  shows  a  large,  white  fluff  at  the  rear.  The  general 
color  of  the  rabbit  fits  in  with  natural  surroundings;  since  the  cotton-tail 
often  escapes  its  enemies  by  "freezing,"  this  color  makes  the  scheme  work 

Mammal  Study  2tc 

well.  I  once  saw  a  marsh  hare,  on  a  stone  in  a  brook,  freezing  most  suc- 
cessfully. I  could  hardly  believe  that  a  living  thing  could  seem  so 
much  hke  a  stone;   only  its  bright  eyes  revealed  it  to  us. 

The  rabbit  cleans  itself  in  amusing  ways. 
It  shakes  its  feet,  one  at  a  time,  with  great 
vigor  and  rapidity  to  get  off  the  dirt  and  then 
licks  them  clean.  It  washes  its  face  with 
both  front  paws  at  once.  It  scratches  its  ear 
with  the  hind  foot,  and  pushes  it  forward  so 
that  it  can  be  licked;  it  takes  hold  of  its  fur 
with  its  front  feet  to  pull  it  around  within 
reach  of  the  tongue. 

The   cotton-tail   does  not  dig  a  burrow.  Washing  up. 

but  sometimes  occupies  the  deserted  burrow 

of  a  woodchuck  or  skunk.  Its  nest  is  called  a  "form,"  which  simply 
means  a  place  beneath  a  cover  of  grass  or  briars,  where  the  grass  is  beaten 
down  or  eaten  out  for  a  space  large  enough  for  the  animal  to  sit.  The 
mother  makes  a  soft  bed  for  the  young,  using  grass  and  her  own  hair  for 
the  purpose;  and  she  constructs  a  coarse  felted  coverlet,  under  which  she 
tucks  her  babies  with  care,  every  time  she  leaves  them.  Young  rabbits 
are  blind  at  first,  but  when  about  three  weeks  old,  are  sufficiently  grown 
to  run  quite  rapidly.  Although  there  may  be  five  or  six  in  a  litter,  yet 
there  are  so  many  enemies  that  only  a  few  escape. 

Fox,  mink,  weasel,  hawk,  owl  and  snake  all  relish  the  young  cotton- 
tail if  they  can  get  it.  Nothing  but  its  runways  through  the  briars  can 
save  it.  These  roads  wind  in  and  out  and  across,  twisting  and  turning 
perplexingly;  they  are  made  by  cutting  off  the  grass  stems,  and  are  just 
wide  enough  for  the  rabbit's  body.  However,  a  rabbit  has  weapons  and 
can  fight  if  necessary;  it  leaps  over  its  enemy,  kicking  it  on  the  back 
fiercely  with  its  great  hind  feet.  Mr.  Set  on  tells  of  this  way  of  conquering 
the  black  snake,  and  Mr.  Sharp  saw  a  cat  completely  vanquished  by  the 
same  method.  The  rabbit  can  also  bite,  and  when  two  males  are  fighting, 
they  bite  each  other  savagely.  Mr.  E.  W.  Cleeves  told  me  of  a  Belgian 
doe  which  showed  her  enmity  to  cats  in  a  peculiar  way.  She  would  run 
after  any  cats  that  came  in  sight,  butting  them  like  a  billy-goat.  The  cats 
soon  learned  her  tricks,  and  would  climb  a  tree  as  soon  as  they  caught 
sight  of  her.  The  rabbit's  sotmd  of  defiance,  is  thumping  the  ground 
with  the  strong  hind  foot.  Some  have  declared  that  the  front  feet  are 
used  also  for  stamping;  although  I  have  heard  this  indignant  thumping 
more  than  once,  I  could  not  see  the  process.  The  cotton-tail  is  a  hare, 
while  the  common  domestic  rabbit  is  a  true  rabbit.  The  two  differ 
chiefly  in  the  habits  of  nesting;  the  hares  rest  and  nest  in  forms,  while 
the  rabbit  makes  burrows,  digging  rapidly  with  the  front  feet. 

Not  the  least  of  tributes  to  the  rabbit's  sagacity,  are  the  negro  folk- 
stories  told  by  Uncle  Remus,  wherein  Bre'r  Rabbit,  although  often  in 
trouble,  is  really  the  most  clever  of  all  the  animals.     I  have  often  thought 

Rabbit  tracks. 


Handbook  of  Nature  Study 

when  I  have  seen  the  tactics  which  rabbits  have  adopted  to  escape  dogs, 
that  we  in  the  North  have  under-rated  the  cleverness  of  this  timid  animaL 
In  one  instance  at  least  that  came  under  our  observation,  a  cotton-tail 
led  a  dog  to  the  verge  of  a  precipice,  then  doubled  back  to  safety,  while 
the  dog  went  over,  landing  on  the  rocks  nearly  three  hundred  feet  below. 


The  Cottox-tail  Rabbit 

Leading  thought — 
The  cotton-tail  thrives 
amid  civilization;  its 
color  protects  it  from 
sight;  its  long  ears 
give  it  warning  of  the 
approach  of  danger; 
and  its  long  legs  en- 
able it  to  run  by  swift, 
long  leaps.  It  feeds 
upon  grasses,  clover, 
vegetables  and  other 

Method— Thh  study 
Belgian  hares  and  Dutch  rabbit.  ^^^  ^^  begun  in  the 

winter,  when  the  rabbit  tracks  can  be  observed  and  the  haunts  of  the 
cotton-tail  discovered.  If  caught  in  a  box  trap,  the  cotton-tail  will  be- 
come tame  if  properly  fed  and  cared  for,  and  may  thus  be  studied  at 
close  range.  The  cage  I  have  used  for  rabbits  as  thus  caught,  is  made 
of  wire  screen,  nailed  to  a  frame,  making  a  wire-covered  box,  two  feet 
high  and  two  or  three  feet  square,  with  a  door  at  one  side  and  no  bot- 
It  should  be  placed  upon  oil-cloth  or  linoleum,  and  thus  may  be 


moved  to  another  carpet  when  the  floor  needs  cleaning.  If  it  is  im- 
possible to  study  the  cotton-tail,  the  domestic  rabbit  may  be  used 

Observations — i.  What  sort  of  tracks  does  the  cotton-tail  make  in  the 
snow?  Describe  and  sketch  them.  Where  do  you  find  these  tracks? 
How  do  you  know  which  way  the  rabbit  was  going?  Follow  the  track 
and  see  if  you  can  find  where  the  rabbit  went.  When  were  these  tracks 
made,  by  night  or  by  day?  What  does  the  rabbit  do  during  the  day? 
What  does  it  find  to  eat  during  the  winter?  How  are  its  feet  protected 
so  that  they  do  not  freeze  in  the  snow? 

2.  What  are  the  two  most  noticeable  peculiarities  of  the  rabbit? 
Of  what  use  are  such  large  ears?  How  are  the  ears  held  when  the  rabbit 
is  resting?  When  startled?  When  not  quite  certain  about  the  direction 
of  the  noise?  Explain  the  reasons  for  these  attitudes.  When  the  rabbit 
wishes  to  make  an  observation  to  see  if  there  is  danger  coming,  what  does 
it  do?  How  does  it  hold  its  ears  then?  How  are  the  ears  held  when  the 
animal  is  running? 

3.  Do  you  think  the  rabbit  has  a  keen  sense  of  smell?  Describe  the 
movements  of  the  nostrils  and  explain  the  reason.  How  does  it  move  its 
head  to  be  sure  of  getting  the  scent? 

Mammal  Study  217 

4.  What  peculiarity  is  there  in  the  upper  lip?  How  would  this  be  an 
aid  to  the  rabbit  when  gnawing?  Describe  the  teeth ;  how  do  these  differ 
from  those  of  the  mouse  or  squirrel  ?  Of  what  advantage  are  the  gnawing 
teeth  to  the  rabbit?  How  docs  it  eat  a  stem  of  grass?  Note  the  rabbit's 
whiskers.     What  do  you  think  they  are  used  for? 

5.  Describe  the  eyes.  How  are  they  placed  so  that  the  rabbit  can 
see  forward  and  backward?'  Do  you  think  that  it  sleeps  with  its  eyes 
open?     Does  it  wink? 

6.  Why  is  it  advantageous  to  the  rabbit  to  have  such  long,  strong, 
hind  legs?  Compare  them  in  size  with  the  front  legs.  Compare  the  front 
and  hind  feet.  How  many  toes  on  each?  How  are  the  bottoms  of  the 
feet  protected?  Are  the  front  feet  ever  used  for  holding  food  like  the 
squirrel's?  In  what  position  are  the  legs  when  the  rabbit  is  resting? 
When  it  is  standing?     When  lifted  up  for  observation? 

7.  How  does  the  cotton-tail  escape  being  seen?  Describe  its  coat. 
Of  what  use  is  the  white  fluff  beneath  the  tail?  Have  you  ever  seen  a 
wild  rabbit  "freeze"  ?     What  is  meant  by  freezing  and  what  is  the  use  of  it? 

8.  In  making  its  toilet  how  does  the  rabbit  clean  its  face,  ears,  feet, 
and  fur  ? 

9.  What  do  the  cotton-tails  feed  upon  during  the  summer?  During 
the  winter?     Do  they  ever  do  much  damage? 

10.  Describe  the  cotton-tail's  nest.  What  is  it  called?  Does  it  ever 
burrow  in  the  ground  ?  Docs  it  ever  use  a  second-hand  burrow  ?  Describe 
the  nest  made  for  the  young  by  the  mother.  Of  what  is  the  bed  com- 
posed? Of  what  is  the  coverlet  made?  What  is  the  special  use  of  the 
coverlet?  How  do  the  young  cotton-tails  look?  How  old  are  they 
before  they  are  able  to  take  care  of  themselves? 

11.  What  are  the  cotton-tail's  enemies?  How  docs  it  escape  them? 
Have  you  ever  seen  the  rabbit  roads  in  a  briar  patch  ?  Do  you  think  that 
a  dog  or  fox  could  follow  them ?  Do  rabbits  ever  fight  their  enemies?  If 
so,  how?  How  do  they  show  anger?  Do  they  stamp  with  the  front  or 
the  hind  foot  ? 

12.  Tell  how  the  cotton-tail  differs  in  looks  and  habits  from  the 
common  tame  rabbit.  How  do  the  latter  dig  their  burrows?  How 
many  breeds  of  tame  rabbits  do  3'ou  know? 

13.  Write  or  tell  stories  on  the  following  topics:  "A  Cotton-tail's 
Story  of  its  Own  Life  Until  it  is  a  Year  Old;"  "The  Jack-rabbit  of  the 
West;"  "The  Habits  of  the  White  Rabbit  or  Varying  Hare;"  "The  Rab- 
bit in  Uncle  Remus'   Tales." 

Supplementary  r^ac^^ng— "Raggylug"  and  "Little  War  Horse,"  Thomp- 
son-Seton;  Squirrels  and  Other  Fur  Bearers,  Burroughs;  Watchers  in  the 
Woods,  Sharp;  American  Animals,  Stone  &  Cram;  Familiar  Lite  in 
Field  and  Forest,  Mathews;  Sharp  Eyes,  Gibson;  Neighbors  with  Claws 
and  Hoofs,  Johonnot;  True  Tales  of  Birds  and  Beasts,  Jordan;  Uncle 
Remus  Stories,  especially  The  Tar  Baby,  which  emphasizes  the  fact  that 
the  rabbits'  runways  are  in  the  protecting  briar-patch. 


Handbook  oj  N ature-Sttidy 

i^-^   ^-.Ltoll 

Winter  lodge  of  muskrats. 
Photo  by  Silas  Lottridge. 


Teacher's  Story 

"Having  finished  this  first  co'.irse  of  big-neck  clams,  they  were  joined  by  a  third 
miiskrat,  and,  together,  they  filed  over  the  bank  and  down  into  the  meadow.  Shortly 
two  of  them  returned  with  great  moiithfids  of  the  mud-bleached  ends  of  calamus-blades. 
Then  followed  the  washing. 

They  dropped  their  loads  upon  the  plank,  took  tip  the  stalks,  pulled  the  blades  apart, 
and  soused  them  up  and  down  in  the  water,  rubbing  them  with  thetr  paws  until  they 
were  as  clean  and  white  as  the  whitest  celery  one  ever  ate.  What  a  dainty  picture! 
Two  little  brown  creatures,  humped  on  the  edge  of  a  plank,  washing  calamus  in  moonlit 
water!" — Dallas  Lore  Sharp. 

RACKING  is  a  part  of  every  boy's  education  who 
aspires  to  a  knowledge  of  wood  lore ;  and  a  boy  with 
this  accomplishment  is  stire  to  be  looked  upon 
with  great  admiration  by  other  boys,  less  skilled  in 
the  interpretation  of  that  writing  made  by  small  feet, 
on  the  soft  snow  or  on  the  mud  of  stream  margins. 
To  such  a  boy,  the  track  of  the  muskrat  is  well 
known,  and  very  easily  recognized. 
The  muskrat  is  essentially  a  water  animal,  and  therefore  its  tracks  are 
to  be  looked  for  along  the  edges  of  ponds,  streams  or  in  marshes.  "Whether 
the  tracks  are  made  by  walking  or  jumping,  depends  upon  the  depth  of 
the  snow  or  mud;  if  it  is  deep,  the  animal  jumps,  but  in  shallow  snow  or 
mud,  it  simply  runs  along.     The  tracks  show  the  front  feet  to  be  smaller 

Mammal  Study  219 

than  the  hind  ones.  The  muskrat  track  is,  however,  characterized  by  the 
tail  imprint.  When  the  creature  jumps  through  the  snow,  the  mark  of 
the  tail  follows  the  paired  imprints  of  the  feet;  when  it  walks,  there  is  a 
continuous  line  made  by  this  strong,  naked  tail.  This  distinguishes  the 
track  of  the  muskrat  from  that  of  the  mink,  as  the  bushy  tail  of  the  latter 
does  not  make  so  distinct  a  mark.  Measuring  the  track,  is  simply  a 
device  for  making  the  pupils  note  its  size  and  shape  more  carefully.  The 
tracks  may  be  looked  for  during  the  thaws  of  March  or  February,  when 
the  muskrats  come  out  of  the  water  to  seek  food. 

In  appearance  the  muskrat  is  peculiar.  The  body  is  usually  about  a 
foot  in  length  and  the  tail  about  eight  inches.  The  body  is  stout  and 
thickset,  the  head  is  rounded  and  looks  like  that  of  a  giant  meadow 
mouse ;  the  eyes  are  black  and  shining;  the  ears  are  short  and  close  to  the 
head;  the  teeth,  like  those  of  other  rodents,  consist  of  a  pair  of  front 
teeth  on  each  jaw,  then  a  long,  bare  space  and  four  grinders  on  each  side. 
There  are  long  sensitive  hairs  about  the  nose  and  mouth,  like  the  whiskers 
of  mice. 

The  muskrat's  hind  legs  are  much  larger  and  stronger  than  the  front 
ones;  and  too,  the  hind  feet  are  much  longer  than  the  front  feet  and  have 
a  web  between  the  toes;  there  are  also  stiff  hairs  which  fill  the  space 
between  the  toes,  outside  the  web,  thus  making  this  large  hind  foot  an 
excellent  swimming  organ.  The  front  toes  are  not  webbed  and  are  used 
for  digging.  The  claws  are  long,  stout  and  sharp.  The  tail  is  long,  stout 
and  flattened  at  the  sides;  it  has  little  or  no  fur  upon  it  but  is  covered 
with  scales;  it  is  used  as  a  scull  and  also  as  a  rudder  when  the  muskrat  is 

The  muskrat's  outer  coat  consists  of  long,  rather  coarse  hairs;  its 
under  coat  is  of  fur,  very  thick  and  fine,  and  although  short,  it  forms  a 
waterproof  protection  for  the  body  of  the  animal.  In  color,  the  fur  is 
dark  brown  above  with  a  darker  streak  along  the  middle  of  the  back; 
beneath,  the  body  is  grayish  changing  to  whitish  on  the  throat  and  lips, 
with  a  brown  spot  on  the  chin.  In  preparing  the  pelts  for  commercial 
-use,  the  long  hairs  are  plucked  out  leaving  the  soft,  fine  under  coat,  which 
is  dyed  and  sold  under  the  name  of  "electric  seal." 

The  muskrat  is  far  better  fitted  by  form,  for  life  in  the  water  than  upon 
the  land.  Since  it  is  heavy-bodied  and  short -legged,  it  cannot  run  rapidly 
but  its  strong,  webbed  hind  feet  are  most  efficient  oars,  and  it  swims 
rapidly  and  easily;  for  rudder  and  propeller  the  strong,  flattened  tail 
serves  admirably,  while  the  fine  fur  next  the  body  is  so  perfectly  water- 
proof that,  however  much  the  muskrat  swims  or  dives,  it  is  never  wet. 
It  is  a  skillful  diver  and  can  stay  under  water  for  several  minutes;  when 
swimming,  its  nose  and  sometimes  the  head  and  the  tip  of  the  tail  appear 
on  the  surface  of  the  water. 

The  food  of  muskrats  is  largely  roots,  especially  those  of  the  sweet  flag 
and  the  yellow  lily.  They  also  feed  on  other  aquatic  plants  and  are  fond 
of  the  fresh-water  shell-fish.  Mr.  Sharp  tells  us,  in  one  of  his  delightful 
stories,  how  the  muskrats  wash  their  food  by  sousing  it  up  and  down  in 
water  many  times  before  eating  it.  Often,  a  muskrat  chooses  some 
special  place  upon  the  shore  which  it  uses  for  a  dining-room,  bringing 
there  and  eating  pieces  of  lily  root  or  fresh-water  clams,  and  leaving  the 
debris  to  show  where  it  habitually  dines.  It  does  most  of  its  hunting  for  food 
at  night,  although  sometimes  it  may  be  seen  thus  employed  during  the  day. 


Handbook  of  N ature-Siudy 

The  winter  lodge  of  the  muskrat  is  a  most  interesting  structure.  A 
foundation  of  tussocks  of  rushes,  in  a  stream  or  shallow  pond,  is  built 
upon  with  reeds  plastered  with  mud,  making  a  rather  regular  dome  which 
may  be  nearly  two  or  three  feet  high ;  or,  if  many-chambered,  it  may  be  a 
grand  affair  of  four  or  five  feet  elevation ;  but  it  always  looks  so  much  Hke 
a  natural  hummock  that  the  eye  of  the  uninitiated  never  regards  it  as  a 
habitation.  Always  beneath  this  dome  and  above  the  water  line,  is  a 
snug,  covered  chamber  carpeted  with  a  soft  bed  of  leaves  and  moss, 
which  has  a  passage  leading  down  into  the  water  below,  and  also  has  an 
air-hole  for  ventilation.  In  these  cabins,  closely  cuddled  together,  three 
or  four  in  a  chamber,  the  muskrats  pass  the  winter.  After  the  pond  is 
frozen  they  are  safe  from  their  enemies  and  are  always  able  to  go  down 
into  the  water  and  feed  upon  the  roots  of  water  plants.  These  cabins  are 
sometimes  built  in  the  low,  drooping  branches  of  willows  or  on  other 

A  imiskrafs  stitnmer  home. 
Drawn  by  A.  MacKinnon,  a  boy  of  13  years. 

AYhether  the  muskrat  builds  itself  a  winter  lodge  or  not,  depends  upon 
the  nature  of  the  shore  which  it  inhabits;  if  it  is  a  place  particularly  fitted 
for  burrows,  then  a  burrow  will  be  used  as  a  winter  retreat;  but  if  the 
banks  are  shallow,  the  muskrats  unite  in  building  cabins.  The  main 
entrance  to  the  muskrat  burrow  is  always  below  the  surface  of  the  water, 
the  burrow  slanting  upward  and  leading  to  a  nest  well  lined,  which  is 
above  the  reach  of  high  water;  there  is  always  an  air  hole  above,  for 
ventilating  this  nest,  and  there  is  also  often  a  passage,  with  a  hidden 
entrance,  leading  out  to  dry  land. 

The  flesh  of  the  muskrat  is  delicious,  and  therefore  the  animal  has 
many  enemies;  foxes,  weasels,  dogs,  minks  and  also  hawks  and  owls  prey 
upon  it.  It  escapes  the  sight  of  its  enemies  as  does  the  mouse,  by  having 
the  color  of  its  fur  not  noticeable;  when  discovered,  it  escapes  its  enemies 
by  swimming,  although  when  cornered,  it  is  courageous  and  fights  fiercely, 
using  its  strong  incisors  as  weapons.  In  winter,  it  dwells  in  safety  when 
the  friendly  ice  protects  it  from  all  its  enemies  except  the  mink;  but  it  is 
exposed  to  great  danger  when  the  streams  break  up  in  spring,  for  it  is  then 
often  driven  from  its  cabin  by  floods,  and  preyed  upon  while  thus  help- 
lessly exposed.  The  muskrat  gives  warning  of  danger  to  its  fellows  by 
splashing  the  water  with  its  strong  tail. 

References — "Wild 
Woods,  Sharp ;   Wild 
Dept.  of  Agriculture 

Mammal  Study  221 

It  is  called  musk- 
rat  because  of  the 
odor,  somewhat  re- 
sembling musk, 
which  it  exhales 
from  two  glands  on 
the  lower  side  of 
the  body  between 
the  hind  legs;  these 
glands  may  be  seen 
when  the  skin  is 
removed,  which  is 
the  too  common 
plight  of  this  poor 
creature,  since  it 
is  hunted  merci- 
lessly for  its  pelt. 

The  little  musk- 
rats  are  bom  m 
April  and  there  are 
visually  from  six  to 
eight  in  a  litter. 
Another  litter  may 
be  produced  in 
June  or  July  and 
a  third  in  August 
or  September.  It  is 
only  thus,  by  rear- 
ing large  families 
often,  that  the 
muskrats  are  able 
to  hold  their  own 
against  the  hunters 
and  trappers  and 
their  natural  ene- 

Animals,     Stone    &    Cram;      A    W^atcher    in    the 
Life,   Ingersoll,   Farmers'  Bulletin  No.  396,  U.  S. 

The  muskrat. 

Photo  by  Silas  Lottridge. 

The  Muskrat 

Leading  thonglit — The  muskrat,  while  a  true  rodent,  is  fitted  for  life 
in  the  water  more  than  for  life  upon  the  land.  Its  hind  feet  are  webbed 
for  use  as  oars  and  its  tail  is  used  as  a  rudder.  It  builds  lodges  of  mud, 
cat-tails  and  rushes  in  which  it  spends  the  winter. 

MetJiod — It  might  be  well  to  begin  this  work  by  asking  for  observations 
on  the  tracks  of  the  muskrat  which  may  be  found  about  the  edges  of 
almost  any  creek,  pond  or  marsh.  If  there  are  muskrat  lodges  in  the 
region  they  should  be  visited  and  described.  For  studying  the  muskrat's 
form  a  live  muskrat  in  captivity  is  almost  necessary.     If  one  is  trapped 

2  22  Hmidbook  of  Nature-Study 

with  a  "figure  four"  it  will  not  be  injured  and  it  may  be  made  more  or 
less  tame  by  feeding  it  with  sweet  apples,  carrots  and  parsnips.  The 
pupils  can  thus  stady  it  at  leisure  although  they  should  not  be  allowed  to 
handle  the  creature  as  it  inflicts  very  severe  wounds  and  is  never  willing 
to  be  handled.  If  a  live  muskrat  cannot  be  obtained  perhaps  some  hunter 
in  the  neighborhood  will  supply  a  dead  one  for  this  observation  lesson. 

While  studying  the  muskrat  the  children  should  read  all  the  stories  of 
beavers  which  are  available  as  the  two  animals  are  very  much  alike  in 
their  habits. 

Observations — i.  In  what  locality  have  you  discovered  the  tracks  of 
the  muskrat?  Describe  its  general  appearance.  Measure  the  muskrat's 
track  as  follows:  (a)  Width  and  length  of  the  print  of  one  foot;  (b)  the 
width  between  the  prints  of  the  two  hind  feet ;  (c)  the  length  between  the 
prints  made  by  the  hind  feet  in  several  successive  steps  or  jumps. 

2.  Was  the  muskrat's  track  made  when  the  animal  was  jumping  or 
walking?  Can  you  see  in  it  a  difference  in  the  size  of  the  front  and  hind 
feet?  Judging  from  the  track,  where  do  you  think  the  muskrat  came 
from?     What  do  you  think  it  was  hunting  for? 

3.  AVhat  mark  does  the  tail  make  in  the  snow  or  mud?  Judging  by 
its  imprint,  should  you  think  the  muskrat's  tail  was  long  or  short,  bare  or 
brushy,  slender  or  strong? 

4.  How  long  is  the  largest  muskrat  you  ever  saw?  How  much  of  the 
whole  length  is  tail?  Is  the  general  shape  of  the  body  short  and  heavy 
or  long  and  slender? 

5.  Describe  the  muskrat's  eyes,  ears  and  teeth.  For  what  are  the 
teeth  especially  fitted?     Has  the  muskrat  whiskers  like  mice  and  rats? 

6.  Compare  the  front  and  hind  legs  as  to  size  and  shape.  Is  there  a 
web  between  the  toes  of  the  hind  feet?  What  does  this  indicate?  Do 
you  think  that  the  muskrat  is  a  good  swimmer? 

7.  Describe  the  muskrat  fur.  Compare  the  outer  and  under  coat. 
What  is  its  color  above  and  below?  What  is  the  name  of  muskrat  fur  in 
the  shops? 

8.  Describe  the  tail.  What  is  its  covering?  How  is  it  flattened? 
What  do  you  think  this  strong,  flattened  tail  is  used  for? 

9.  Do  you  think  the  muskrat  is  better  fitted  to  live  in  the  water  than 
on  land  ?  How  is  it  fitted  to  live  in  the  water  in  the  following  particulars : 
Feet?     Tail?     Fur? 

10.  How  much  of  the  muskrat  can  you  see  when  it  is  swimming? 
How  long  can  it  stay  under  water  when  diving? 

11.  What  is  the  food  of  the  muskrat?  Where  does  it  find  it?  How 
does  it  prepare  the  food  for  eating?  Does  it  seek  its  food  during  the  night 
or  day?  Have  you  ever  observed  the  muskrat's  dining  room?  If  so, 
describe  it. 

12.  Describe  the  structure  of  the  muskrat's  winter  lodge,  or  cabin, 
in  the  following  particulars :  Its  size.  Where  built  ?  Of  what  material  ? 
How  many  rooms  in  it?  Are  these  rooms  above  or  below  the  water  level ? 
Of  what  is  the  bed  made?  How  is  the  nest  ventilated?  How  is  it 
arranged  so  that  the  entrance  is  not  closed  by  the  ice?  Is  such  a  home 
built  by  one  or  more  muskrats?  How  many  live  within  it?  Do  the 
muskrats  always  build  these  winter  cabins?  What  is  the  character  of 
the  shores  where  they  are  built  ? 

Alammal  Study 


13.  Describe  the  muskrat's  burrow  in  the  bank  in  the  following 
particulars:  Is  the  entrance  above  or  below  water?  Where  and  how  is 
the  nest  made?  Is  it  ventilated?  Does  it  have  a  back  door  leading  out 
upon  the  land? 

14.  What  are  the  muskrat's  enemies?  How  does  it  escape  them? 
How  does  it  fight?  Is  it  a  courageous  animal?  How  does  the  muskrat 
give  warning  to  its  fellows  when  it  perceives  danger?  At  what  time  of 
year  is  it  comparatively  safe?  At  what  time  is  it  exposed  to  greatest 

15.  Why  is  this  animal  called  muskrat?  Compare  the  habits  of 
muskrats  with  those  of  beaver  and  write  an  English  theme  upon  the 
similarity  of  the  two. 

16.  At  what  time  of  year  do  you  find  the  young  muskrats?  How 
many  in  a  litter  ? 

17.  Read  Farmers'  Bulletin  No.  396  of  the  U.  S.  Dept.  of  Agriculture 
and  write  an  English  theme  on  the  destructive  habits  of  muskrats  and  the 
economic  uses  of  these  animals. 

Supplementary  reading — Familiar  Wild  Animals,  Lottridge;  Little 
Beasts  of  Field  and  Wood,  Cram;  Squirrels  and  other  Fur-bearers,  Bur- 
roughs; "The  Builders"  in  Ways  of  Wood  Folk,  Long. 

The  white-footed,  or  deer,  mouse. 
Drawn  by  Anna  Stryke. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  house  mouse  feeds  tipon  almost  anything  -which  people  like  to  eat. 

Teacher's  Story 

Somewhere  in  the  darkness  a  clock  strikes  two; 
And  there  is  no  sound  in  the  sad  old  house, 
Biit  the  lone,  veranda  dripping  with  dew, 
And  in  the  wainscot — a  mouse. — Bret  Harte. 

ERE  mouse-gray  a  less  inconspicuous  color,  there 
would  be  fewer  mice;  when  a  mouse  is  running 
along  the  floor,  it  is  hardly  discernible,  it  looks  so 
like  a  flitting  shadow;  if  it  were  black  or  white  or 
any  other  color,  it  would  be  more  often  seen  and 
destroyed.  Undoubtedly,  it  is  owing  to  the  fact 
that  its  soft  fur  has  this  shadowy  color,  that  this 
species  has  been  able  to  spread  over  the  world. 
At  first  glance  one  wonders  what  possible  use  a  mouse  can  make  of  a 
tail  which  is  as  long  as  its  body,  but  a  little  careful  observation  will 
reveal  the  secret.  The  tail  is  covered  with  transverse  ridges  and  is  bare 
save  for  sparse  hairs,  except  toward  the  tip.  Dr.  Ida  Reveley  first  called 
my  attention  to  the  fact  that  the  house  mouse  uses  its  tail  in  climbing.  I 
verified  this  interesting  observation, ^and  found  that  my  mouse  used  the 
tail  for  aid  when  climbing  a  string.  He  would  go  up  the  string,  hand  over 
hand,  like  a  sailor,  then  in  trying  to  stretch  to  the  edge  of  his  jar,  he 
invariably  wound  his  tail  about  the  string  two  or  three  times,  and  hanging 
to  the  string  with  the  hind  feet  and  tail,  would  reach  far  out  with  his  head 
and  front  feet.  Also,  when  clinging  to  the  edge  of  the  cover  of  the  jar,  he 
invariably  used  his  tail  as  a  brace  against  the  side  of  the  glass,  so  that  it 
pressed  hard  for  more  than  half  its  length.  Undoubtedly  the  tail  is  of 
great  service  when  climbing  up  the  sides  of  walls. 

Mamnial  Stitdy 


The  tail  is  also  of  some  use,  when  the  mouse  jumps  directly  upwards. 
The  hind  legs  are  very  much  longer  and  stronger  than  the  front  legs.  The 
hind  feet  are  also  much  longer  and  larger  than  the  front  feet;  and  although 
the  mouse,  when  it  makes  its  remarkable  jumps,  depends  upon  its  strong 
hind  legs,  I  am  sure  that  often  the  tail  is  used  as  a  brace  to  guide  and 
assist  the  leap.  The  feet  are  free  from  hairs  but  are  downy;  the  hind 
foot  has  three  front  toes,  a  long  toe  behind  on  the  outside  and  a  short  one 
on  the  inside.  The  claws  are  fairly  long  and  very  sharp  so  that  they  are 
able  to  cling  to  almost  anything  but  glass.  When  exploring,  a  mouse 
stands  on  its  hind  feet,  folding  its  little  front  paws  under  its  chin  while  it 
reaches  up  ready  to  catch  anything  in  sight;  it  can  stretch  up  to  an 
amazing  height.  It  feeds  upon  almost  anything  which  people  like  to  eat 
and,  when  eating,  holds  its  food  in  its  front  paws  like  a  squirrel. 

The  thin,  velvety  ears  are  flaring  cornucopias  for  taking  in  sound;  the 
large,  rounded  outer  ear  can  be  moved  forward  or  back  to  test  the  direc- 
tion of  the  noise.  The  eyes  are  Hke  shining,  black  beads;  and  if  a 
mouse  can  wink,  it  does  it  so  rapidly  as  not  to  be  discernible.  The  nose 
is  long,  inquisitive,  and  always  sniffing  for  new  impressions.  The 
whiskers  are  delicate  and  probably  sensitive.  The  mouth  is  furnished 
with  two  long,  curved  gnawing  teeth  at  the  front  of  each  jaw,  then  a  bare 
space,  and  four  grinding  teeth  on  each  side,  above  and  below,  like  the 
teeth  of  woodchucks  and  other  rodents.  The  gnawing  teeth  are  very 
strong  and  enable  the  mouse  to  gnaw  through  board  partitions  and  other 

The  energy  with  which  the  mouse  cleans  itself  is  inspiring  to  behold. 
It  nibbles  its  fur  and  licks  it  with  fervor,  reaching  around  so  as  to  get  at  it 
from  behind,  and  tak- 
ing hold  with  its  little 
hands  to  hold  firm 
while  it  cleans.  When 
washing  its  face  and 
head,  it  uses  both 
front  feet,  licking 
them  clean  and  rub- 
bing them  both  simul- 
taneously from  behind 
the  ears  down  over 
the  face.  It  takes  its 
hind  foot  in  both  front 
feet  and  nibbles  and 
licks  it.  It  scratches 
the  back  of  its  head 
with    its     hind     foot. 

Young  mice  are 
small,  downy,  pink 
and  blind  when  bom. 
The  mother  makes  for 
them  a  nice,  soft  nest 
of  pieces  of  cloth, 
paper,  grass,  or  what- 
ever is  at  hand ;  the 
nest     is     round     like  Young  mice,  blind,  pink  and  hairless. 

2  26  Handbook  of  N ature-Study 

a  ball  and  at  its  center  is  nestled  the  family.  Mice  living  in  houses, 
have  runways  between  the  plaster  and  the  outside,  or  between  ceiling 
and  floor.  In  winter  they  live  on  what  food  they  can  find,  and  upon  flies 
or  other  insects  hibernating  in  our  houses.  The  house  mice  sometimes 
live  under  stacks  of  corn  or  grain  in  the  fields,  but  usually  confine  them- 
selves to  houses  or  banis.  They  are  thirsty  little  fellows  and  they  like  to 
make  their  nests  within  easy  reach  of  water.  Our  house  mice  came  from 
ancestors  which  lived  in  Asia  originally;  they  have  always  been  great 
travelers  and  they  have  followed  men  wherever  they  have  gone,  over  the 
world.  They  came  to  America  on  ships  with  the  first  explorers  and  the 
Pilgrim  fathers.  They  now  travel  back  and  forth,  crossing  the  ocean  in 
ships  of  all  sorts.  They  also  travel  across  the  continent  on  trains. 
Wherever  our  food  is  carried  they  go;  and  the  mouse,  which  you  see  in 
your  room  one  day,  may  be  a  thousand  miles  away  within  a  week.  They 
are  clever  creatures,  and  learn  quickly  to  connect  cause  and  effect.  For 
two  years,  I  was  in  an  office  in  Washington,  and  as  soon  as  the  bell  rang 
for  noon,  the  mice  would  appear  instantly,  htmting  waste-baskets  for 
scraps  of  lunch.  They  had  learned  to  connect  the  sound  of  the  bell 
with  food. 

Of  all  our  wild  mice,  the  white-footed  or  deer  mouse  is  the  most 
interesting  and  attractive.  It  is  found  almost  exclusively  in  woods  and  is 
quite  different  in  appearance  from  other  mice.  Its  ears  are  very  large; 
its  fur  is  fine  and  beautiful  and  a  most  delicate  gray  color.  It  is  white 
beneath  the  head  and  under  the  sides  of  the  body.  The  feet  are  pinkish, 
the  front  paws  have  short  thumbs,  while  the  hind  feet  are  very  much 
longer  and  have  a  long  thumb  looking  very  much  like  an  elfin  hand  in  a 
gray-white  silk  glove.  On  the  bottom  of  the  feet  are  callous  spots  which 
are   pink   and   serve   as   foot  ^ 

pads.    It   makes    its    nest   in  f 

hollow  trees  and  stores  nuts  -*""      ——-■-—<— 

for  winter  use.  AVe  once 
found  two  quarts  of  shelled 
beech  nuts  in  such  a  nest.  It 
also  likes  the  hips  of  the  wild 
rose  and  many  kinds  of  ber- 
ries; it  sometimes  makes  its 
summer  home  in  a  bird's  nest, 
which  it  roofs  over  to  suit 
itself.  The  young  mice  are 
carried,  hanging  to  the  mother's  breasts.  As  an  inhabitant  of  summer 
cottages,white-foot  is  cunning  and  mischievous ;  it  pulls  cotton  out  of  quilts 
takes  covers  off  of  jars,  and  as  an  explorer,  is  equal  to  the  squirrel.  I  once 
tried  to  rear  some  young  deer  mice  by  feeding  them  warm  milk  with  a 
pipette;  although  their  eyes  were  not  open,  they  invariably  washed  their 
faces  after  each  meal,  showing  that  neatness  was  bred  m  the  bone.  This 
mouse  has  a  musical  voice  and  often  chirps  as  sweetly  as  a  bird.  Like 
the  house  mouse  it  is  more  active  at  night. 

The  meadow  mouse  is  the  one  that  makes  its  run-ways  under  the  snow, 
making  strange  corrugated  patterns  over  the  ground  which  attract  our 
attention  in  spring.  It  has  a  heavy  body,  short  legs,  short  ears  and  short 
tail.  It  is  brownish  or  blackish  in  color.  It  sometimes  digs  burrows 
straight  into  the  ground,  but  more  often  makes  its  nest  beneath  sticks  and 

Track  of  white-footed  mouse. 
Notice  tail-track. 

Mammal  Study 


stones  or  stacks  of  com.  It  is  the  nest  of  this  field  mouse  which  the 
bumblebee  so  often  takes  possession  of,  after  it  is  deserted.  The  meadow 
mouse  is  a  good  fighter,  sitting  up  like  a  woodchuck  and  facing  its  enemy 
bravely.  It  needs  to  be  courageous,  for  it  is  preyed  upon  by  almost  every 
creature  that  feeds  upon  small  animals;  the  hawks  and  owls  especially 
are  its  enemies.  It  is  well  for  the  farmer  that  these  mice  have  so  many 
enemies,  for  they  multiply  rapidly  and  would  otherwise  soon  overrun  and 
destroy  the  grain  fields.     This  mouse  is  an  excellent  swimmer. 

A  part  of  winter  work,  is  to  make  the  pupils  familiar  with  the  tracks 
of  the  meadow  mice  and  how  to  distinguish  them  from  other  tracks. 

The  bow  trap. 
Figure  4.  trap. 

Mouse  traps. 

1.  A  smooth  splint  or  a  peeled  twig. 

2.  Splint  bowed  and  tied  at  D.the  bait  inserted  at  C. 

3.  The  inverted  bowl  balanced  on  splint  bow. 

Trapping  Field  Mice — Probably  wild  animals  have  endured  more 
cruelty  through  the  agency  of  traps  than  through  any  other  form  of 
human  persecution .  The  savage  steel  traps  often  catch  the  animal  by  the 
leg  holding  it  until  it  gnaws  off  the  imprisoned  foot,  and  thus  escapes 
maimed  and  handicapped  for  its  future  struggle  for  food;  or  if  the  trap 
gets  a  strong  hold,  the  poor  creature  may  suffer  tortures  during  a  long 
period  before  the  owner  of  the  trap  appears  to  put  an  end  to  its  sufferings 
by  death  If  box  traps  are  used,  they  are  often  neglected  and  the  poor 
creature  imprisoned,  is  left  to  languish  and  starve.  The  teacher  cannot 
enforce  too  strongly  upon  the  child  the  ethics  of  trapping.  Impress 
upon  him  that  the  box  traps  are  far  less  cruel;  but  that  if  set,  they  must 
be  examined  regularly  and  not  neglected.  The  study  of  mice  affords  a 
good  opportunity  for  giving  the  children  a  lesson  m  humane  trapping. 
Let  them  set  a  figure  4  or  a  bowl  trap,  which  they  must  examine 
every  morning,  the  little  prisoners  may  be  brought  to  school 
and  studied ;  meanwhile,  they  should  be  treated  kindly  and  fed  bounti- 
fully After  a  mouse  has  been  studied,  it  should  be  set  free,  even  though 
it  be  one  of  the  quite  pestiferous  field  mice.  The  moral  effect  of  killing  an 
animal,  after  a  child  has   become  thoroughly  interested  m  it  and  its  life, 

is  always  bad.  .  «    •       1     c         0 

References— Claws  and  Hoofs,  Johomot,  American  Animals  Stone  eV 
Cram;  Secrets  of  the  Woods,  Long;  Wild  Life,  Ingersoll;  l^amiliar  ^\  ild 
Animals,   Lottridge. 

2  28  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  House  Mouse 

Leading  thought — The  mouse  is  fitted  by  color,  form,  agility  and  habits 
to  thrive  upon  the  food  which  it  steals  from  man,  and  to  live  in  the  midst 
of  civilized  people. 

Method — A  mouse  cage  can  be  easily  made  of  wire  window-screen 
tacked  upon  a  wooden  frame.  I  have  even  used  aquarium  jars  with  wire 
screen  covers,  and  by  placing  one  jar  upon  another,  opening  to  opening, 
and  then  laying  them  horizontal,  the  mouse  can  be  transferred  to  a  fresh 
cage  without  trouble,  and  thus  the  mousey  odor  can  be  obviated,  while 
the  little  creature  is  being  studied.  A  little  water  in  a  wide-necked  bottle 
can  be  lowered  into  this  glass  house  by  a  string,  and  the  food  can  be  given 
in  like  manner.  Stripped  paper  should  be  put  into  the  jar  for  the  comfort 
of  the  prisoner;  a  stiff  string  hanging  down  from  the  middle  of  the  cage 
will  afford  the  prisoner  a  chance  to  show  his  feats  as  an  acrobat. 

Observations — i .  Why  is  the  color  of  the  mouse  of  special  benefit  to  it  ? 
Do  you  think  it  protects  it  from  the  sight  of  its  enemies?  Can  you  see  a 
mouse  easily  as  it  runs  across  the  room?  What  is  the  nature  of  the  fur  of 
a  mouse? 

2.  How  long  is  a  mouse's  tail  as  compared  with  its  body?  What  is  the 
covering  of  the  tail?  Of  what  use  to  the  mouse  is  this  long,  ridged  tail? 
Watch  the  mouse  carefully  and  discover,  if  you  can,  the  use  of  the  tail  in 

3.  Is  the  mouse  a  good  jumper?  Are  the  hind  legs  long  and  strong 
when  compared  with  the  front  legs?  How  high  do  you  think  a  mouse 
can  jump?  Do  you  think  it  uses  its  tail  as  an  aid  in  jumping?  How 
much  of  the  legs  are  covered  with  hair?  Compare  the  front  and  hind  feet. 
What  sort  of  claws  have  they?  How  does  the  mouse  use  its  feet  when 
climbing  the  string?     How  can  it  climb  up  the  side  of  a  wall? 

4.  Describe  the  eyes.  Do  you  think  the  mouse  can  see  very  well? 
Does  it  wink  ?  AVhat  is  the  shape  of  the  ears  ?  Do  you  think  it  can  hear 
well  ?     Can  it  move  its  ears  forward  or  backward  ? 

5.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  snout?  Of  what  advantage  is  this? 
Note  the  whiskers.  What  is  their  use?  Describe  the  mouth.  Do  you 
know  how  the  teeth  are  arranged?  For  what  other  use  than  to  bite  food 
does  the  mouse  use  its  teeth?  What  other  animals  have  their  teeth 
arranged  like  those  of  the  mouse?  What  food  does  the  house  mouse  live 
upon?         How  does  it  get  it? 

6.  How  does  the  mouse  act  when  it  is  reaching  up  to  examine  some- 
thing? How  does  it  hold  its  front  feet?  Describe  how  the  mouse  washes 
its  face.     Its  back.     Its  feet. 

7.  Where  does  the  house  mouse  build  its  nest?  Of  what  material? 
How  do  the  baby  mice  look?     Can  they  see  when  they  are  first  bom  ? 

8.  House  mice  are  great  travelers.  Can  you  tell  how  they  manage 
to  get  from  place  to  place?  Write  a  story  telling  all  you  know  of  their 

9.  How  many  kinds  of  mice  do  you  know?  Does  the  house  mouse 
ever  live  in  the  field  ?  What  do  you  know  of  the  habits  of  the  white-footed 
mouse?     Of  the  meadow  mice?     Of  the  jumping  mice? 

T    1 



-:  ,r^p 




!>-'  ^flnH 


Mammal  Study  229 


Teacher's  Story 

E  who  knows  the  ways  of  the  woodchuck  can 
readily  guess  where  it  is  hkely  to  be  found; 
it  loves  meadows  and  pastures  where  grass  or 
clover  lushly  grows.  It  is  also  fond  of  garden 
truck  and  has  a  special  delectation  for  melons. 
The  burrow  is  likely  to  be  situated  near  a  fence 
or  stone  heap,  which  gives  easy  access  to  the 
chosen  food.  The  woodchuck  makes  its 
burrow  by  digging  the  earth  loose  with  its 
front  feet,  and  pushing  it  backward  and  out  of 
the  entrance  with  the  hind  feet.  This  method 
leaves  the  soil  in  a  heap  near  the  entrance,  from  which  paths  radiate  into 
the  grass  in  all  directions.  If  one  undertakes  to  dig  out  a  woodchuck,  one 
needs  to  be  not  only  a  husky  individual,  but  something  of  an  engineer; 
the  direction  of  the  burrow  extends  downward  for  a  little  way,  and  then 
rises  at  an  easy  angle,  so  that  the  inmate  may  be  in  no  danger  of  flood. 
The  nest  is  merely  an  enlargement  of  the  burrow,  lined  with  soft  grass, 
which  the  woodchucks  bring  in  in  their  mouths.  During  the  early  part 
of  the  season,  the  father  and  mother  and  the  litter  of  young  may  inhabit 
the  same  burrow,  although  there  are  likely  to  be  at  least  two  separate 
nests.  There  is  usually  more  than  one  back  door  to  the  woodchuck's 
dwelling,  through  which  it  may  escape,  if  pressed  too  closely  by  enemies; 
these  back  doors  differ  from  the  entrance,  in  that  they  are  usually  hidden 
and  have  no  earth  heaped  near  them. 

The  woodchuck  usually  feeds  in  the  morning  and  again  in  the  evening, 
and  is  likely  to  spend  the  middle  of  the  day  resting.  It  often  goes  some 
distance  from  its  burrow  to  feed,  and  at  short  intervals,  lifts  itself  upon 
its  hind  feet  to  see  if  the  coast  is  clear;  if  assailed,  it  will  seek  to  escape 
by  running  to  its  burrow;  and  when  running,  it  has  a  peculiar  gait  well 
described  as  "pouring  itself  along."  If  it  reaches  its  burrow,  it  at  once 
begins  to  dig  deeply  and  throw  the  earth  out  behind  it,  thus  making  a 
wall  to  keep  out  the  enemy.  When  cornered,  the  woodchuck  is  a  coura- 
geous and  fierce  fighter;  its  sharp  incisors  prove  a  powerful  weapon  and  it 
will  often  whip  a  dog  much  larger  than  itself.  Every  boy  knows  how  to 
find  whether  the  woodchuck  is  in  its  den  or  not,  by  rolling  a  stone  into  the 
burrow,  and  listening;  if  the  animal  is  at  home,  the  sound  of  its  digging 
apprises  the  listener  of  the  fact.  In  earlier  times,  the  ground-hogs  were 
much  preyed  upon  by  wolves,  wildcats  and  foxes;  now,  only  the  fox 
remains  and  he  is  fast  disappearing,  so  that  at  present,  the  farmer  and  his 
dog  are  about  the  only  enemies  this  burrower  has  to  contend  with.  It  is 
an  animal  of  resources  and  will  climb  a  tree  if  attacked  by  a  dog;  it  will 
also  climb  trees  for  fruit,  hke  peaches.  During  the  late  summer,  it  is  the 
ground-hog's  business  to  feed  very  constantly  and  become  very  fat. 
About  the  first  of  October,  it  retires  to  its  den  and  sleeps  until  the  end  of 
March  or  April.  During  this  dormant  state,  the  beating  of  its  heart  is  so 
taint  as  to  be  scarcely  perceptible,  and  very  little  nourishment  is  required 
to  keep  it  alive;  this'nourishment  is  supplied  by  the  fat  stored  inits  body, 
which  it  uses  up  by  March,  and  comes  out  of  its  burrow  in  the  spring,  look- 
ing gaunt  and  lean.      The  old   saying  that  the  ground-hog  comes  out  on 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Candlemas  Day,  and  if  it  sees  its  shadow,  goes  back  to  sleep  for  six  weeks 
more,  may  savorof  meteorological  truth,  but  it  is  certainly  not  true  of  the 


The  full-grown  woodchuck  ordinarily  measures  about  two  feet  in 
length.  Its  color  is  grizzly  or  brownish,  sometimes  blackish  in  places; 
the  under  parts  are  reddish  and  the  feet  black.  The  fur  is  rather  coarse, 
thick  and  brown,  with  longer  hairs  which  are  grayish.  The  skin  is  very 
thick  and  tough  and  seems  to  fit  loosely,  a  condition  which  gives  the 
peculiar  "pouring  along"  appearance  when  it  is  running.  The  hind  legs 
and  feet  are  longer  than  those  in  front.  Both  pairs  of  feet  are  fitted  for 
digging,  the  front  ones  being  used  for  loosening  the  earth  and  the  hind 
pair  for  kicking  it  out  of  the  burrow. 

The  woodchuck's  ears  are  roundish  and  not  prominent,  and  by  mus- 
cular contraction  they  are  closed  when  the  animal  is  digging,  so  that  no 

soil  can  enter;  the 
sense  of  hearing  is 
acute.  The  teeth  con- 
sist of  two  large  in- 
cisors at  the  front  of 
each  jaw,  a  bare  space 
and  four  grinders  on 
each  side,  above  and 
below;  the  incisors 
are  used  for  biting 
food  and  also  for  fight- 
ing. The  eyes  are  full 
and  bright.  The  tail 
is  short  and  brushy, 
and  it  with  the  hind 
legs,  form  a  tripod 
which  supports  the 
animal,  as  it  sits  with 
its  forefeet  lifted. 

When  feeding,  the 
woodchuck  often 
makes  a  contented 
grunting  noise;  when 
attacked  and  fighting, 
it  growls;  and  when 
feeling  happy  and  con- 
versational, it  sits  up 
and  whistles.  I  had  a 
woodchuck  acquaint- 
ance once  which  al- 
ways gave  a  high, 
shrill,  almost  birdlike 
greeting.     There     are 

Photo  by  Verne  Morton. 

whistle  when  I  came  in  view,  a  very  jolly 
plenty  of  statements  in  books  that  woodchucks  are  fond  of  music,  and 
Mr.  Ingersoll  states  that  at  Wellesley  College  a  woodchuck  on  the  chapel 
lawn  was  wont  to  join  the  morning  song  exercises  with  a  "clear  soprano." 
The  young  woodchucks  are  bom  about  the  first  of  May  and  the  litter 
usually  numbers  four  or  five.  In  June  the  "chucklings"  may  be  seen 
following  the   mother   in   the    field   with   much   babyish   grunting.     If 

Mammal  Study  231 

captured  at  this  period,  they  make  every  interesting  pets.  By  August  or 
September  the  young  woodchucks  leave  the  home  burrow  and  start 
burrows  of  their  own. 

References — Wild  Animals,  Stone  &  Cram;  Wild  Neighbors,  Inger- 
soll;  Squirrels  and  Other  Fur  Bearers,  Burroughs;  Familiar  Wild  Ani- 
mals, Lottridge. 


The  Woodchuck  or  Grouxd-Hog 

Leading  thought — The  woodchuck  has  thriven  with  civilization,  not- 
withstanding the  farmer's  dog,  gun,  traps  and  poison.  It  makes  its  nest 
in  a  burrow  in  the  earth  and  lives  upon  vegetation;  it  hibernates  in 

Method — Within  convenient  distance  for  observation  by  the  pupils  of 
every  country  schoolhouse  and  of  most  village  schoolhouses,  maybe 
found  a  woodchuck  and  its  dwelling.  The  pupils  should  be  given  the 
outline  for  observations  which  should  be  made  individually  through 
watching  the  woodchuck  for  weeks  or  months. 

Observations — i.  Where  is  the  woodchuck  found?  On  what  does  it 
live?     At  what  time  of  day  does  it  feed ?     How  does  it  act  when  startled? 

2.  Is  the  woodchuck  a  good  fighter?  With  what  weapons  does  it 
fight?  What  are  its  enemies?  How  does  it  escape  its  enemies  when  in  or 
out  of  its  burrow?     How  does  it  look  when  running? 

3.  What  noises  does  the  woodchuck  make  and  what  do  they  mean? 
Play  a  "mouth-organ"  near  the  woodchuck's  burrow  and  note  if  it  likes 

4.  How  does  the  woodchuck  make  its  burrow?  Where  is  it  likely 
to  be  situated  ?  Where  is  the  earth  placed  which  is  taken  from  the  bur- 
row? How  does  the  woodchuck  bring  it  out?  How  is  the  burrow  made 
so  that  the  woodchuck  is  not  drowned  in  case  of  heavy  rains?  In  what 
direction  do  the  underground  galleries  go?  Where  is  the  nest  placed  in 
relation  to  the  galleries  ?  Of  what  is  the  nest  made  ?  How  is  the  bedding 
carried  in?     Of  what  special  use  is  the  nest? 

5.  Do  you  find  paths  leading  to  the  entrances  of  the  burrow?  If  so, 
describe  them.  How  can  you  tell  whether  a  woodchuck  is  at  home  or  not 
if  you  do  not  see  it  enter?  Where  is  the  woodchuck  likely  to  station  itself 
when  it  sits  up  to  look  for  intruders  ? 

6.  How  many  woodchucks  inhabit  the  same  burrow?  Are  there 
likely  to  be  one  or  more  back  doors  to  the  burrow?  What  for?  How  do 
the  back  doors  differ  from  the  front  doors? 

7.  How  long  is  the  longest  woodchuck  that  you  have  ever  seen? 
What  is  the  woodchuck's  color?  Is  its  fur  long  or  short?  Coarse  or  fine? 
Thick  or  sparse  ?  Is  the  skin  thick  or  thin  ?  Does  it  seem  loose  or  close 

8.  Compare  the  front  and  hind  feet  and  describe  difference  in  size  and 
shape.  Are  either  or  both  slightly  webbed  ?  Explain  how  both  front  and 
hind  feet  and  legs  are  adapted  by  their  shape  to  help  the  woodchuck.  Is 
the  tail  long  or  short?     How  does  it  assist  the  animal  in  sitting  up? 

g.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  woodchuck's  ear?  Can  it  hear  well? 
Why  are  the  ears  not  filled  with  soil  when  the  animal  is  burrowing?  Of 
what  use  are  the  long  incisors?     Describe  the  eyes. 

2-7  2  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

10.  How  does  the  woodchuck  prepare  for  winter?  Where  and  how 
does  it  pass  the  winter?  Did  you  ever  know  a  woodchuck  to  come  out  on 
Candlemas  Day  to  look  for  its  shadow? 

11.  AYhen  does  the  woodchuck  appear  in  the  spring?  Compare  its 
general  appearance  in  the  fall  and  in  the  spring  and  explain  the  reason  for 

the  difference. 

12.  When  are  the  young  woodchucks  bom ?     What  do  you  know  of 

the  way  the  mother  woodchuck  cares  for  her  young? 

As  I  turned  round  the  corner  of  Httbbard's  Grove,  saw  a  woodchuck,  the  first  of 
the  season,  in  the  middle  of  the  field  six  or  seven  rods  from  the  fence  which  bounds  the 
wood,  and  twenty  rods  distant.     I  ran  along  the  fence  and  cut  him  off,  or  rather  overtook 
him,  'though  he  started  at  the  same  time.      When  I  was  only  a  rod^  and  a  half  off,  he 
stopped,  and  I  did  the  same;  then  he  ran  again,  and  I  ran  up  within  three  feet  of  him, 
when  he  stopped  again,  the  fence  being  between  us.     I  squatted  down  and  surveyed  him 
at  my  leisure.     His  eyes  were  dull  black  and  rather  inobvious,  with  a  faint  chestnut 
iris  with  but  little  expression  and  that  more  of  resignation  than  of  anger.      The  general 
aspect  was  a  coarse  grayish  brown,  a  sort  of  grisel.     A  lighter  brown  next  the  skm,  then 
black  or  very  dark  brown  and  tipped  with  whitish  rather  loosely.      The  head  between  a 
squirrel  and  a  bear,  fat  on  the  top  and  dark  brown,  and  darker  still  or  black  on  the  tip 
of  the  nose.      The  whiskers  black,  two  inches  long.      The  ears  very  small  and  roundish, 
set  far  back  and  nearly  buried  in  the  fur.     Black  feet,  with  long  and  slender  claws  for 
digging.     It  appeared  to  tremble,  or  perchance  shivered  with  cold.      When  I  moved,  it 
gritted  its  teeth  quite  loud,  sometimes  striking  the  under  jaw  against  the  other  chatter- 
ingly  sometimes  grinding  one  jaw  on  the  other,  yet  as  if  more  from  instinct  than  anger. 
Whichever  way  I  turned,  that  way  it  headed.     I  took  a  twig  a  foot  long  and  touched  its 
snout  at  which  it  started  forward  and  bit  the  stick,  lessening  the  distance  between  us  to 
two  feet  and  still  it  held  all  the  ground  it  gained.     I  played  with  it  tenderly  awhile  with 
the  stick,  trying  to  open  its  gritti)ig  jaivs.     Ever  its  long  incisors,  tivo  above  and  two 
below  were  presented.     But  I  thought  it  would  go  to  sleep  if  I  stayed  long  enough.  _    It 
did  not  sit  upright  as  sometimes,  but  standing  on  its  fore  feet  with  its  head  down,i..  e., 
half  sitting,  half  standing.      We  sat  looking  at  one  another  about  half  an  hour,  till  we 
began  to  feel  mesmeric  influences.      When  I  was  tired,  I  moved  away,  wishing  to  see 
him  run   but  I  could  not  start  him.     He  woidd  not  stir  as  long  as  I  was  looking  at  him 
or  could  see  him.     I  walked  around  him;  he  turned  as  fast  and  fronted  me  still.     I  sat 
down  by  his  side  within  a  foot.     I  talked  to  him  quasi  forest  lingo,  baby-talk,  at  any  rate 
in  a  concilatory  tone,  and  thought  that  I  had  some  influence  on  him.     He  gritted  his 
teeth  less.     I  chewed  checkerbcrrv  leaves  and  presented  them  to  his  nose  at  last  without 
a  grit  ■  though  I  saiu  that  by  so  much  gritting  of  the  teeth  he  had  worn  them  rapidly  and 
they  were  covered  with  a  fine  white  powder,  which,  if  you  measured  it  thus,  would  have 
made  his  anger  terrible.      He  did  not  mind  any  noise  I  might  make.      With  a  little 
stick  I  lifted  one  of  his  paws  to  examine  it,  and  held  it  up  at  pleasure.     I  turned  him 
over  to  '^ee  what  color  he  was  beneath  {darker  or  most  pusely  brown),  though  he  turned 
himself  back  again  sooner  than  I  could  have  wished.     His  tail  was  also  brown,  though 
not  very  dark   rat-tail  like,  with  loose  hairs  standing  out  on  all  sides  like  a  caterpillar 
brush      He  had  a  rather  mild  look.     I  spoke  kindly  to  him.     I  reached  checkerberry 
leaves  to  his  mouth.     I  stretched  niv  hands  over  him,  though  he  turned  up  his^  head  and 
still  gritted  a  little.     I  laid  my  hand  on  him,  but  immediately  took  it  off  again,  instinct 
not  being  wliully  overcome.     If  I  had  had  a  few  fresh  bean  leaves,  thus  in  advance  of 
the  season   I  am  sure  I  should  have  tamed  him  completely.      It  was  a  frizzly  tail.     His 
is  a  humble,  terrestrial  color  like  the  partridge's,  well  concealed  where  dead  wiry  grass 
rises  above  darker  brown  or  chestnut  dead  leaves — a  modest  color.     If  I  had  had  some 
food  I  shoidd  have  ended  with  stroking  him  at  my  leisure.     Could  easily  have  wrapped 
him  'in  my  handkcrch  icf.     He  was  not  fat  nor  particularly  lean.     I  finally  had  to  leave 
him  without  seeing  him  move  from  the  place.     A  large,  clumsy,  burrowing  squirrel. 
Arctomys,  bear-mouse.     I  respect  him  as  one  of  the  natives.     He  lies  there,  oy  his  color 
and  habit's  ro  naturalized  amid  the  dry  leaves,  the  withered  grass,  and  the  bushas.  _  A 
sound  nap,  too,  he  has  enjoyed  in  his  native  fields,  the  past  ivinter.     I  think  I  niight 
learn  some  -wisdom  of  him.     His  ancestors  have  lived   here  longer  than  mine.      He  is 
more  thoroughly  acclimated  and  naturalized  than  I.     Bean  leaves  the  red  man  raised 
for  him,  but  he  can  do  without  them. — Thoreau's  Journal. 

Mammal  Study 



Teacher's  Story 

Just  a  tawny  glimmer,  a  dash  of  red  and  gray, 

Was  it  a  flitting  shadow,  or  a  sunbeam  gone  astray/ 

It  glances  up  a  tree  trunk,  and  a  pair  of  bright  eyes  glow 

Where  a  little  spy  in  am.bush  is  measuring  his  foe. 

I  hear  a  mocking  chuckle,  then  wrathful,  lie  grows  bold 

And  stays  his  pressing  business  to  scold  and  scold  and  scold. 

E  ought  to  yield  admiring  tribute  to  those  animals  which 
have  been  able  to  flourish  in  our  midst  despite  man  and 
his  gun,  this  weapon  being  the  most  cowardly  and 
unfair  invention  of  the  human  mind.  The  only  time 
that  man  has  been  a  fair  fighter,  in  combating  his  four- 
footed  brethren,  was  when  he  fought  them  with  a 
weapon  which  he  wielded  in  his  hand.  There  is  noth- 
ing in  animal  comprehension  which  can  take  into 
account  a  projectile,  and  much  less  a  shot  from  a  gun;  but  though  it  does 
not  understand,  it  experiences  a  deathly  fear  at  the  noise.  It  is  pathetic 
to  note  the  hush  in  a  forest  that  follows  the  sound  of  a  gun;  every  song, 
every  voice,  every  movement  is  stilled  and  every  little  heart  filled  with 
nameless  terror.  How  any  man  or  boy  can  feel  manly  when,  with  this 
scientific  instrument  of  death  in  his  hands,  he  takes  the  life  of  a  little 
squirrel,  bird  or  rabbit,  is  beyond  my  comprehension.  In  pioneer  days 
when  it  was  a  fight  for  existence,  man  against  the  wilderness,  the  matter 
was  quite  different;  but  now  it  seems  to  me  that  anyone  who  hunts  what 
few  wild  creatures  we  have  left,  and  which  are  in  nowise  injurious,  is, 
whatever  he  may  think  of  himself,  no  believer  in  fair  play. 

Within  my  own  memory,  the  beautiful  black  squirrel  was  as  common 
in  our  woods  as  was  his  red  cousin ;  the  shot-gun  has  exterminated  this 
splendid  species.  Well  may  we  rejoice  that  the  red  squirrel  has,  through 
its  lesser  size  and  greater  cunning,  escaped  a  like  fate;  and  that  pug- 
nacious and  companionable  and  shy,  it  lives  in  our  midst  and  climbs  our 
very  roofs  to  sit  there  and  scold  us  for  coming  within  its  range  of  vision. 



Hafidbook  of  Nature-Study 

It  has  succeeded  not  only  in  living  despite  of  man,  but  because  of  man,  for 
it  rifles  our  grain  bins  and  corn  cribs  and  waxes  opulent  by  levying  tribute 
upon  our  stores. 

Thoreau  describes  most  graphically  the  movements  of  this  squirrel. 
He  says:  "All  day  long  the  red  squirrels  came  and  went.  One  would 
approach  at  first  warily,  warily,  through  the  shrub-oaks,  running  over  the 
snow  crust  by  fits  and  starts  and  like  a  leaf  blown  by  the  wind,  now  a  few 
paces  this  way,  with  wonderful  speed  and  waste  of  energy,  making  incon- 
ceivable haste  with  his  "trotters,"  as  if  it  were  for  a  wager,  and  now  as 
many  paces  that  way,  but  never  getting  on  more  than  half  a  rod  at  a 
time;  and  then  suddenly  pausing  with  a  ludicrous  expression  and  a 
gratuitous  somersault,  as  if  all  the  eyes  of  the  universe  were  fixed  on  him, 
*  *  *  and  then  suddenly,  before  you  could  say  Jack  Robinson  he 
would  be  in  the  top  of  a  young  pitch  pine,  winding  up  his  clock,  and 
chiding  all  imaginary  spectators,  soliloquizing  and  talking  to  all  the 
universe  at  the  same  time." 

It  is  surely  one  of  the  most  comical  of  sights  to  see  a  squirrel  stop 
running  and  take  observations;  he  lifts  himself  on  his  haunches,  and  with 
body  bent  forward,  presses  his  Httle  paws  against  his  breast  as  if  to  say, 
"Be  still,  oh  my  beating  heart!"  which  is  all  pure  affectation  because  he 
knows  he  can  scurry  away  in  perfect  safety.  He  is  likely  to  take  refuge 
on  the  far  side  of  a  tree,  peeping  out  from  this  side  and  that,  and  whisking 
back  like  a  flash  as  he  catches  our  eye ;  we  might  never  know  he  was  there 
except  as  Riley  puts  it,  "he  lets  his  own  tail  tell  on  him."  When  climbing 
up  or  down  a  tree,  he  goes  head  first  and  spreads  his  legs  apart  to  clasp  as 
much  of  the  trunk  as  possible;    meanwhile  his  sharp  little  claws  cling 

securely  to  the  bark. 
He  can  climb  out  on 
the  smallest  twigs 
quite  as  well,  when 
he  needs  to  do  so,  in 
passing  from  tree  to 
tree  or  when  gather- 
ing acorns. 

A  squirrel  always 
establishes  certain 
roads  to  and  from 
h  i  s  abiding  place 
and  almost  invar- 
iably follows  them. 
Such  a  path  may  be 
entirely  in  the  tree- 
tops,  with  airbridges 
from  a  certain 
branch  of  one  tree 
to  a  certain  branch 
of  another,  or  it  may 
be  partially  on  the 
ground  between 
trees.  I  have  made 
notes  of  these  paths 
Red  squirrel  or  Chickaree.  in     the     vicinity    of 

'■jF-f^-?-:  '-■y^-y^'^-^ 

:.-...  ^J'i'  ^"^-g!?-  .•"'■^•^* 

Mammal  Study  235 

my  own  home,  and  have  noted  that  if  a  squirrel  leaves  them  for  ex- 
ploring, he  goes  warily;  while,  when  following  them,  he  is  quite  reckless 
in  his  haste.  When  making  a  jump  from  tree  to  tree,  he  flattens  himself 
as  widely  as  possible  and  his  tail  is  held  somewhat  curved,  but  on  a 
level  with  the  body,  as  if  its  wide  brush  helped  to  buoy  him  up 
and  perhaps  to  steer  him  also. 

During  the  winter  the  chickaree  is  quite  dingy  in  color  and  is  an 
inconspicuous  object,  especially  when  he  "humps  himself  up"  so 
that  he  resembles  a  knot  on  a  limb ;  but  with  the  coming  of  spring, 
he  dons  a  brighter  coat  of  tawny-red  and  along  his  sides,  where 
the  red  meets  the  grayish  white  of  the  under  side,  there  is  a 
dark  line  which  is  very  ornamental;  and  now  his  tail  is  a  shower 
of  ruddiness.  As  the  season  advances,  the  colors  seem  to  fade; 
they  are  probably  a  part  of  his  wooing  costume.  When  dashing  up  a  tree 
trunk,  his  color  is  never  very  striking  but  looks  like  the  glimmer  of  sun- 
light; this  has  probably  saved  many  of  his  kind  from  the  gunner,  whose 
eyes  being  at  the  front  of  his  head,  cannot  compare  in  efficiency  with 
those  of  the  squirrel,  which  being  large  and  full  and  alert,  are  placed  at 
the  sides  of  the  head  so  as  to  see  equally  well  in  all  directions. 

The  squirrel's  legs  are  short  because  he  is  essentially  a  climber  rather 
than  a  runner;  the  hips  are  very  strong  which  insures  his  power  as  a 
jumper  and  his  leaps  are  truly  remarkable.  A  squirrel  uses  his  front 
paws  for  hands  in  a  most  human  way;  with  them  he  washes  his  face  and 
holds  his  food  up  to  his  mouth  while  eating,  and  it  is  interesting  to  note 
the  skill  of  his  claws  when  used  as  fingers.  The  track  he  makes  in  the 
snow  is  quite  characteristic.  The  tracks  are  paired  and  those  of  the  large 
five-toed  hind  feet  are  always  in  front. 

Squirrel  tracks. 

The  squirrel  has  two  pairs  of  gnawing  teeth  which  are  very  long  and 
strong,  as  in  all  rodents,  and  he  needs  to  keep  busy  gnawing  hard  things 
with  them,  or  they  will  grow  so  long  that  he  cannot  use  them  at  all  and 
will  starve  to  death.  He  is  very  clever  about  opening  nuts  so  as  to  get  all 
the  meats.  He  often  opens  a  hickory  nut  with  two  holes  which  tap  the 
places  of  the  nut  meats  squarely;  with  walnuts  or  butternuts,  which  have 
much  harder  shells,  he  makes  four  small  holes,  one  opposite  each  quarter 
of  the  kernel.  He  has  no  cheek-pouches  like  a  chipmunk  but  he  can  carry 
corn  and  other  grain.  He  often  fills  his  mouth  so  full  that  his  cheeks 
bulge  out  like  those  of  a  boy  eating  pop-corn;  but  anything  as  large  as  a 
nut  he  carries  in  his  teeth.  His  food  is  far  more  varied  than  many  sup- 
pose and  he  will  eat  almost  an^rthing  eatable;  he  is  a  little  pirate  and 
enjoys  stealing  from  others  with  keenest  zest.  In  spring,  he  eats  leaf 
buds  and  hunts  our  orchards  for  apple  seeds.  In  winter,  he  feeds  on  nuts 
and  cones;  it  is  marvelous  how  he  will  take  a  cone  apart,  tearing  off  the 
scales  and  leaving  them  in  a  heap  while  searching  for  seeds;  he  is  espec- 
ially fond  of  the  seeds  of  Norway  spruce  and  hemlock.  Of  course,  he  is 
fond  of  nuts  of  all  kinds  and  will  cut  the  chestnut  burs  from  the  tree 
before  they  are  ripe,  so  that  he  may  get  ahead  of  the  other  harvesters. 
He  stores  his  food  for  winter  in  all  sorts  of  odd  places  and  often  forgets 

236  Handbook  of  Nature-Stiidy 

where  he  puts  it.  We  often  find  his  winter  stores  untouched  the  next 
summer.  He  also  likes  birds'  eggs  and  nestlings,  and  if  it  were  not  for 
the  chastisement  he  gets  from  the  parent  robins,  he  would  work  much 
damage  in  this  way. 

The  squirrel  is  likely  to  be  a  luxurious  fellow  and  have  a  winter  and  a 
summer  home.  The  former  is  in  some  hollow  tree  or  other  protected 
place ;  the  summer  home  consists  of  a  platform  of  twigs  in  some  tree-top, 
often  built  upon  an  abandoned  'crow  or  hawk  nest;  but  just  how  he  uses 
these  two  homes,  is  as  yet,  a  matter  of  guessing  and  is  a  good  subject  for 
young  naturalists  to  investigate.  During  the  winter,  he  does  not  remain 
at  home  except  in  coldest  weather,  when  he  lies  cozily  with  his  tail 
wrapped  around  him  like  a  boa  to  keep  him  warm.  He  is  too  full  of 
interest  in  the  world  to  lie  quietly  long,  but  comes  out,  hunts  up  some  of 
his  stores,  and  finds  life  worth  while  despite  the  cold.  One  squirrel 
adopted  a  bird  house  in  one  of  our  trees,  and  he  or  his  kin  have  lived  there 
for  years;  in  winter,  h-e  takes  his  share  of  the  suet  put  on  the  trees  for 
birds,  and  because  of  his  greediness,  we  have  been  compelled  to  use  picture 
wire  for  tying  on  the  suet. 

The  young  are  born  in  a  protected  nest,  usually  in  the  hollow  of  a  tree. 
There  are  four  to  six  young  in  a  litter  and  they  appear  in  April.  If 
necessary  to  move  the  young,  the  mother  carries  the  squirrel  baby  cling- 
ing to  her  breast  with  its  arms  around  her  neck. 

The  squirrel  has  several  ways  of  expressing  his  emotions;  one  is  by 
various  curves  in  his  long  beautiful,  bushy  tail.  If  the  creatures  of  the 
wood  had  a  stage,  the  squirrel  would  have  to  be  their  chief  actor.  Sur- 
prise, incredulousness,  indignation,  fear,  anger  and  joy  are  all  perfectly 
expressed  by  tail  gestures  and  also  by  voice.  As  a  vocalist  he  excels;  he 
chatters  with  curiosity,  "chips"  with  surprise,  scolds  by  giving  a  gutteral 
trill,  finishing  with  a  falsetto  squeal.  He  is  the  only  singer  I  know  who 
can  carry  two  parts  at  a  time.  Notice  him  sometimes  in  the  top  of  a 
hickory  or  chestnut  tree  when  nuts  are  ripe,  and  you  will  hear  him  singing 
a  duet  all  by  himself,  a  high  shrill  chatter  with  a  chuckling  accompani- 
ment. Long  may  he  abide  with  us  as  an  uninvited  guest  at  our  cribs! 
For,  though  he  be  a  freebooter  and  conscienceless,  yet  our  world  would 
lack  its  highest  example  of  incarnate  grace  and  activity,  if  he  were  not 
in  it. 

The  Red  Squirrel  or  Chickaree 

Leading  thought — The  red  squirrel  by  its  agility  and  cleverness  has 
lived  on,  despite  its  worst  enemy — man.  By  form  and  color  and  activity 
it  is  fitted  to  elude  the  htmter. 

Method — If  a  pet  squirrel  in  a  cage  can  be  procured  for  observation  at 
the  school,  the  observations  on  the  form  and  habits  of  the  animal  can  be 
best  studied  thus;  but  a  squirrel  in  a  cage  is  an  anomaly  and  it  is  far 
better  to  stimulate  the  pupils  to  observe  the  squirrels  out  of  doors.  Give 
the  following  questions,  a  few  at  a  time,  and  ask  the  pupils  to  report  the 
answers  to  the  entire  class.  Much  should  be  done  with  the  supplemen- 
tary reading,  as  there  are  many  interesting  squirrel  stories  illustrating  its 

Mammal  Study  237 

Observations — i.  Where  have  you  seen  a  squirrel  ?  Does  the  squirrel 
trot  along  or  leap  when  running  on  the  ground?  Does  it  run  straight 
ahead  or  stop  at  intervals  for  observation?  How  does  it  look?  How 
does  it  act  when  looking  to  see  if  the  "coast  is  clear"? 

2.  When  climbing  a  tree,  does  it  go  straight  up,  or  move  around  the 
trunk?  How  does  it  hide  itself  behind  a  tree  trunk  and  observe  the 
passer-by?  Describe  how  it  manages  to  climb  a  tree?  Does  it  go  down 
the  tree  head  first  ?  Is  it  able  to  climb  out  on  the  smallest  branches  ?  Of 
what  advantage  is  this  to  it? 

3.  Look  closely  and  see  if  a  squirrel  follows  the  same  route  always 
when  passing  from  one  point  to  another.  How  does  it  pass  from  tree  to 
tree?  How  does  it  act  when  preparing  to  jump?  Hew  does  it  hold  its 
legs  and  tail  when  in  the  air  during  a  jump  from  branch  to  branch? 

4.  Describe  the  colors  of  the  red  squirrel  above  and  below.  Is  there  a 
dark  stripe  along  its  side,  if  so,  what  color?  How  does  the  color  of  the 
squirrel  protect  it  from  its  enemies?     Is  its  color  brighter  in  summer  or  in 

winter  ? 

5.  How  are  the  squirrel's  eyes  placed?  Do  3-ou  think  it  can  see 
behind  as  well  as  in  front  all  the  time?  Are  its  eyes  bright  and  alert,  or 
soft  and  tender? 

6.  Are  its  legs  long  or  short?  Are  its  hind  legs  stronger  and  longer 
than  the  front  legs?  Why?  Why  does  it  not  need  long  legs?  _  Does  its 
paws  have  claws?     How  does  it  use  its  paws  when  eating  and  in  making 

its  toilet? 

7.  Describe  the  squirrel's  tail.  Is  it  as  long  as  the  body?  Is  it 
used  to  express  emotion ?  Of  what  use  is  it  when  the  squirrel  is  jumping? 
Of  what  use  is  it  in  the  winter  in  the  nest  ? 

8.  What  is  the  food  of  the  squirrel  during  the  autumn?  Winter? 
Spring?  vSummer?  Where  does  it  store  food  for  the  winter?  Does  it 
steal  foo.l  laid  up  by  jays,  chipmunks,  mice  or  other  squirrels  ?  How  does 
it  carry  nuts  ?  Has  it  cheek-pouches  Hke  the  chipmunk  for  carrying  food  ? 
Does  it  stay  in  its  nest  all  winter  living  on  stored  food  like  a  chipmunk? 

9.  Where  does  the  red  squirrel  make  its  winter  home?  Does  it  also 
have  a  summer  home,  if  so,  of  what  is  it  made  and  where  built?  In  what 
sort  of  a  nest  are  the  young  bom  and  reared?  At  what  time  of  the  year 
are  the  young  bom  ?     How  does  the  mother  squirrel  carry  her  little  ones 

if  she  wishes  to  move  them  ? 

10.  How  much  of  squirrel  language  can  you  understand?  How  does 
it  express  surprise,  excitement,  anger,  or  joy  during  the  nut  harvest? 
Note  how  many  different  sounds  it  makes  and  tr>-  to  discover  what  they 


1 1 .  Describe  or  sketch  the  tracks  made  by  the  squirrel  m  the  snow. 

12.  How  does  the  squirrel  get  at  the  meats  of  the  hickory  nut  and  the 
walnut?  How  are  its  teeth  arranged  to  gnaw  holes  in  such  hard  sub- 
stances as  shells? 

Supplementary  reading — Squirrels  and  Other  Fur  Bearers,  John 
Burroughs;  American  Animals,  Stone  &  Cram;  Secrets  of  the  Woods, 
Long;  Familiar  Life  in  Field  and  Forest,  Mathews;  Little  Beasts  of  Field 
and  Wood;  Cram;  Wild  Neighbors,  Ingersoll;  Familiar  Wild  Animals, 

238  Hafidhook  of  N ature-Stiidy 


"URRY  was  a  baby  red  squirrel.  One  day 
in  Ma)'  his  mother  was  moving  him  from 
one  tree  to  another.  He  was  chnging 
with  his  Httle  arms  around  her  neck  and 
his  body  clasped  tightly  against  her  breast, 
when  something  frightened  her  and  in  her 
sudden  movement,  she  dropped  her  heavy 
baby  in  the  grass.  Thus,  I  inherited  him 
and  entered  upon  the  rather  onerous 
duties  of  caring  for  a  baby  of  whose  needs  I  knew  little;  but  I  knew  that 
every  well  cared  for  baby  should  have  a  book  detailing  all  that  happens  to 
it,  therefore,  I  made  a  book  for  Furry,  writing  in  it  each  day  the  things 
he  did.  If  the  children  who  have  pets  keep  similar  books,  they  will  find 
them  most  interesting  reading  afterward,  and  they  will  surely  enjoy 
the  writing  very  much. 

Extracts    from    Furry  s    Note-hook 

May  18,  1902 — The  baby  squirrel  is  just  large  enough  to  cuddle  in  one 
hand.  He  cuddles  all  right  when  once  he  is  captured;  but  he  is  a  terrible 
fighter,  and  when  I  attempt  to  take  him  in  my  hand,  he  scrtaches  and 
bites  and  growls  so  that  I  have  been  obliged  to  name  him  Fury.  I  told 
him,  however,  if  he  improved  in  temper  I  would  change  his  name  to  Furry. 

May  19 — Fury  greets  me,  when  I  open  his  box,  with  the  most  awe- 
inspiring  little  growls,  which  he  calculates  will  make  me  turn  pale  with 
fear.  He  has  not  cut  his  teeth  yet,  so  he  cannot  bite  very  severely,  but 
that  isn't  his  fault,  for  he  tries  hard  enough.  The  Naturalist  said  cold 
milk  would  kill  him,  so  I  warmed  the  milk  and  put  it  in  a  teaspoon  and 
placed  it  in  front  of  his  nose;  he  batted  the  spoon  with  both  forepaws 
and  tried  to  bite  it,  and  thus  got  a  taste  of  the  milk,  which  he  drank  eagerly 
lapping  it  up  like  a  kitten.  When  I  hold  him  in  one  hand  and  cover  him 
with  the  other,  he  turns  contented  little  somersaults  over  and  over. 

May  20 — Fury  bit  me  only  once  to-day,  when  I  took  him  out  to  feed 
him.  He  is  cutting  his  teeth  on  my  devoted  fingers.  I  tried  giving  him 
grape-nuts  soaked  in  milk,  but  he  spat  it  out  in  disgust.  Evidently  he 
does  not  believe  he  needs  a  food  for  brain  and  nerve.  He  always  washes 
his  face  as  soon  as  he  is  through  eating. 

May  21 — Fury  lies  curled  up  under  his  blanket  all  day.  Evidently 
good  little  squirrels  stay  quietly  in  the  nest,  when  the  mother  is  not  at 
home  to  give  them  permission  to  run  around.  When  Fury  sleeps,  he  rolls 
himself  up  in  a  little  ball  with  his  tail  wrapped  closely  around  him.  The 
squirrel's  tail  is  his  "furs,"  which  he  wraps  around  him  to  keep  his  back 
warm  when  he  sleeps  in  winter. 

May  23 — Every  time  I  meet  Uncle  John  he  asks,  "Is  his  name  Fury  or 
Furry  now?"  Uncle  John  is  much  interested  in  the  good  behavior  of  even 
little  squirrels.  As  Fury  has  not  bitten  me  hard  for  two  days,  I  think  I 
will  call  him  Furry  after  this.  He  ate  some  bread  soaked  in  milk  to-day, 
holding  it  in  his  hands  in  real  squirrel  fashion.  I  let  him  run  around  the 
room  and  he  liked  it. 

May  25 — Furry  got  away  from  me  this  morning  and  I  did  not  find  him 
for  an  hour.  Then  I  discovered  him  in  a  pasteboard  box  of  drawing 
paper  with  the  cover  on.     How  did  he  squeeze  through? 

Mammal  Study  230 

May  26 — He  holds  the  bowl  of  the  spoon  with  both  front  paws  while 
he  drinks  the  milk.  When  I  try  to  draw  the  spoon  away,  to  fill  it  again 
after  he  has  emptied  it,  he  objects  and  hangs  on  to  it  with  all  his  Httle 
might,  and  scolds  as  hard  as  ever  he  can.  He  is  such  a  funny,  unreason- 
able baby. 

May  28 — To-night  I  gave  Furry  a  walnut  meat.  As  soon  as  he  smelled 
it  he  became  greatly  excited;  he  grasped  the  meat  in  his  hands  and  ran  off 
and  hid  under  my  elbow,  growling  like  a  kitten  with  its  first  mouse. 

May  30 — Since  he  tasted  nuts  he  has  lost  interest  in  milk.  The  nut 
meats  are  too  hard  for  his  new  teeth,  so  I  mash  them  and  soak  them  in 
water  and  now  he  eats  them  like  a  little  piggy- wig  with  no  manners  at  all. 
He  loves  to  have  me  stroke  his  back  while  he  is  eating.  He  uses  his 
thumbs  and  fingers  in  such  a  human  way  that  I  always  call  his  front  paws 
hands.  When  his  piece  of  nut  is  very  small  he  holds  it  in  one  hand  and 
clasps  the  other  hand  behind  the  one  which  holds  the  dainty  morsel,  so  as 
to  keep  it  safe. 

May  3 1 — When  he  is  sleepy  he  scolds  if  I  disturb  him  and  turning  over 
on  his  back  bats  my  hand  with  all  of  his  soft  little  paws  and  pretends  that 
he  is  going  to  bite. 

June  4 — Furry  ranges  around  the  room  now  to  please  himself.  He  is  a 
little  mischief;  he  tips  over  his  cup  of  milk  and  has  commenced  gnawing 
off  the  wall  paper  behind  the  book-shelf  to  make  him  a  nest.  The  paper  is 
green  and  will  probably  make  him  sorry. 

June  5 — This  morning  Furry  was  hidden  in  a  roll  of  paper.  I  put  my 
hand  over  one  end  of  the  roll  and  then  reached  in  with  the  other  hand  to 
get  him;  but  he  got  me  instead,  because  he  ran  up  my  sleeve  and  was 
much  more  contented  to  be  there  than  I  was  to  have  him.  I  was  glad 
enough  when  he  left  his  hiding  place  and  climbed  to  the  top  shelf  of  the 
bookcase,  far  beyond  my  reach. 

June  6 — I  have  not  seen  Furry  for  twenty-four  hours,  but  he  is  here 
surely  enough.  Last  night  he  tipped  over  the  ink  bottle  and  scattered 
nut  shells  over  the  floor.     He  prefers  pecans  to  any  other  nuts. 

June  7 — I  caught  Furry  to-day  and  he  bit  my  finger  so  it  bled.  But 
afterwards,  he  cuddled  in  my  hand  for  a  long  time,  and  then  climbed  my 
shoulder  and  went  hunting  around  in  my  hair  and  wanted  to  stay  there 
and  make  a  nest.  When  I  took  him  away,  he  pulled  out  his  two  hands 
full  of  my  devoted  tresses.     I'll  not  employ  him  as  a  hairdresser. 

June  9 — Furry  sleeps  nights  in  the  top  drawer  of  my  desk;  he  crawls 
in  from  behind.  When  I  pull  out  the  drawer  he  pops  out  and  scares  me 
nearly  out  of  my  wits;  but  he  keeps  his  wits  about  him  and  gets  away 
before  I  can  catch  him. 

June  20 — I  keep  the  window  open  so  Furry  can  run  out  and  in  and 
learn  to  take  care  of  himself  out-of-doors. 

Furry  soon  learned  to  take  care  of  himself,  though  he  often  returned 
for  nuts,  which  I  kept  for  him  in  a  bowl.  He  does  not  come  very  near  me 
out-of-doors,  but  he  often  speaks  to  me  in  a  friendly  manner  from  a  cer- 
tain pitch  pine  tree  near  the  house. 

There  are  many  blank  leaves  in  Furry's  note-book.  I  wish  that  he 
could  have  written  on  these  of  the  things  that  he  thought  about  me  and 
my  performances.  It  would  certainly  have  been  the  most  interesting 
book  concerning  squirrels  in  the  world. 


Handbook  of  N ature-Study 


Teacher's  Story 

HILE  the  chipmunk  is  a  good  runner  and  jumper, 
it  is  not  so  able  a  chmber  as  is  the  red  squirrel, 
and  it  naturally  stays  nearer  the  ground. 
One  windy  day  I  was  struck  by  the  peculiar 
attitude  of  what,  I  first  thought,  was  a  red 
squirrel  gathering  green  acorns  from  a  chestnut 
oak  in  front  of  my  window.  A  second  glance 
showed  me  that  it  was  a  chipmunk  lying 
close  to  the  branch,  hanging  on  for  "dear  life 
and  with  an  attitude  of  extreme  caution,  quite 
foreign  to  the  red  squirrel  in  a  similar  situation.  He  would  creep  out, 
seize  an  acorn  in  its  teeth,  creep  back  to  a  larger  limb,  take  off  the  shell, 
and  with  his  little  paws  stuff  the  kernel  into  his  cheek  pouches;  he  took 
hold  of  one  side  of  his  mouth  with  one  hand  to  stretch  it  out,  as  if  open- 
ing a  bag,  and  stuffed  the  acorn  in  with  the  other.  I  do  not  know 
whether  this  process  was  necessary  or  not  at  the  beginning,  for  his  cheeks 
were  distended  when  I  first  saw  him ;  and  he  kept  on  stuffing  them  until 
he  looked  as  if  he  had  a  hopeless  case  of  mumps.  Then  with  obvious 
care  he  descended  the  tree  and  retreated  to  his  den  in  the  side  hill,  the 
door  of  which  I  had  already  discovered,  although  it  was  well  hidden  by 
a  bunch  of  orchard  grass. 

Chipmunks  are  more  easily  tamed  than  red  squirrels  and  soon  learn 
that  pockets  may  contain  nuts  and  other  things  good  to  eat.  The  first 
tame  chipmunk  of  my  acquaintance  belonged  to  a  species  found  in  the 
California  mountains.  He  was  a  beautiful  little  creature  and  loved  to 
play  about  his  mistress'  room;  she  being 
a  naturalist  as  well  as  a  poet,  was  able 
to  understand  her  little  companion,  and 
the  relations  between  them  were  full  of 
mutual  confidence.  He  was  fond  of 
English  walnuts  and  would  always  hide 
away  all  that  were  placed  in  a  dish  on 
the  table.  One  day  his  mistress,  when 
taking  off  her  bonnet  after  returning 
from  church,  discovered  several  of  these 
nuts  tucked  safely  in  the  velvet  bows; 
they  were  invisible  from  the  front  but 
perfectly  visible  from  the  side.  Even 
yet,  she  wonders  what  the  people  at 
church  that  day  thought  of  her  original 
ideas  in  millinery;  and  she  wonders 
still  more  how  "Chipsie"  managed  to 
get  into  the  bonnet-box,  the  cover  of 
which  was  always  carefully  closed. 

The  chipmunk  is  a  good  home  builder 
and  carries  off,  presumably  in  its  cheek 
pouches,  all  of  the  soil  which  it  removes 

in  making  its  burrow.     The    burrow  is  "Chipsie",  a  chipmunk  of 

made   usually    in    a    dry    hillside,     the  the  Sierras. 

Mammal  Study  241 

passageway  just  large  enough  for  its  own  body,  widening  to  a  nest 
which  is  well  bedded  down.  There  is  usually  a  back  door  also,  so  that 
in  case  of  necessity,  the  inmate  can  escape.  It  retires  to  this  nest  in 
late  November  and  does  not  appear  again  until  March.  In  the  nest, 
it  stores  nuts  and  other  grains  so  that  when  it  wakens,  at  long  inter- 
vals, it  can  take  refreshment. 

If  you  really  wish  to  know  whether  you  see  what  you  look  at  or  not, 
test  yourself  by  trying  to  describe  the  length,  position  and  number  of 
the  chipmunk's  stripes.  These  stripes,  like  those  of  the  tiger  in  the 
jungle,  make  the  creature  less  conspicuous;  when  on  the  ground, 
where  its  stripes  fall  in  with  the  general  shape  and  color  of  the  grass 
and  underbrush,  it  is  quite  invisible  until  it  stirs.  Its  tail  is  not  so 
long  nor  nearly  so  bushy  as  that  of  the  squirrel;  it  does  not  need  a  tail 
to  balance  and  steer  with  in  the  tree  tops;  and  since  it  lives  in  the 
ground,  a  bushy  tail  would  soon  be  loaded  with  earth  and  would  be  an 
incubus  instead  of  a  thing  of  beauty. 

The  chipmunk  is  not  a  vocalist  like  the  red  squirrel,  but  he  can  cluck 
like  a  cuckoo  and  chatter  gayly  or  cogently ;  and  he  can  make  himself  into  a 
little  bunch  with  his  tail  curved  up  his  back,  while  he  eats  a  nut  from  both 
his  hands,  and  is  even  more  amusing  than  the  red  squirrel  in  this  attitude; 
probably  because  he  is  more  innocent  and  not  so  much  of  a  poseur.  His 
food  consists  of  all  kinds  of  nuts,  grain  and  fruit,  but  he  does  little  or  no 
damage,  as  a  rule.  He  is  pretty  and  distinctly  companionable,  and  I 
can  rejoice,  in  that  I  have  had  him  and  his  whole  family  as  my  near 
neighbors  for  many  years.  I  always  feel  especially  proud  when  he  shows 
his  confidence,  by  scampering  around  our  piazza  floor  and  peeping  in  at 
our  windows,  as  if  taking  a  reciprocal  interest  in  us. 


The  Chipmunk 

Leading  thougJit — The  chipmunk  lives  more  on  the  ground  than  does 
the  squirrel;  its  colors  are  protective  and  it  has  cheek  pouches  in  which 
it  carries  food,  and  also  soil  when  digging  its  burrow.  It  stores  food  for 
winter  in  its  den. 

Method — The  field  note-book  should  be  the  basis  for  this  work. 
Give  the  pupils  an  outline  of  observations  to  be  made,  and  ask  for  reports 
now  and  then.  Meanwhile  stimulate  interest  in  the  little  creatures  by 
reading  aloud  from  some  of  the  references  given. 

Observations — i.  Do  you  see  the  chipmunk  climbing  around  in  trees 
like  the  red  squirrel  ?     How  high  in  a  tree  have  you  ever  seen  a  chipmunk  ? 

2.  What  are  the  chipmunk's  colors  above  and  below?  How  many 
stripes  has  it?  Where  are  they  and  what  are  their  colors?  Do  you 
think  that  these  stripes  conceal  the  animal  when  among  grasses  and 

3.  Compare  the  tails  of  the  chipmunk  and  the  red  squirrel.  Which 
is  the  longer  and  bushier?  Tell  if  you  can  the  special  advantage  to  the 
chipmunk  in  having  this  less  bushy  tail? 

4.  W^hat  does  the  chipmunk  eat  ?  How  does  it  carry  its  food  ?  How 
does  it  differ  in  this  respect  from  the  red  squirrel?  Does  it  store  its  food 
for  winter  use?  How  does  it  prepare  its  nuts?  How  does  it  hold  its  food 
while  eating? 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

5.  Where  does  the  chipmunk  make  its  home?  How  does  it  carry 
away  soil  from  its  burrow?  How  many  entrances  are  there?  How  is 
the  den  arranged  inside?  Does  it  hve  in  the  same  den  the  year  round? 
When  does  it  retire  to  its  den  in  the  fall?     When  does  it  come  out  in  the 

sprm*^  ? 

6."  Does  the  chipmunk  do  any  damage  to  crops?  What  seeds  does  it 
distribute?     At  what  time  do  the  little  chipmunks  appear  in  the  spring? 

7.  Observe  carefully  the  different  tones  of  the  chipmunk  and  com- 
pare its  chattering  with  that  of  the  squirrel. 

Supplementary  reading — Squirrels  and  Other  Fur-Bearers,  John 
Burroughs;   American  Animals,  Stone  and  Cram. 

Photo  by  Verne  Morton 
TJic  Eastern  Chipmunk. 


Bright  little  comrade  from  the  ivoods,  come  show 
Thy  antic  cJicer  about  my  sunlit  room 
Of  books,  that  stand  in  moods  of  gloom 
Because  thought's  tide  is  out,  heart's  rhythm  is  low 
With  weariness.     Friendly  thou  art  and  know 
Good  friend  in  me,  ivho  yet  did  dare  presume 
To  take  thee  from  thy  home,  thy  little  doom 
To  make  for  thee,  and  longer  life  bestow. 
So,  thou  hast  not  been  eaten  by  the  snake; 
Thy  gentle  blood  no  weasel  drank  at  night; 
Thou  hast  not  starved  'mid  winter's  frozen  wood. 
Nor  waited  vainly  for  the  sun  to  make 
Sweet  the  wild  nuts  for  thee.      Yet,  little  sprite, 
Thou  still  doth  question  if  my  deed  were  good? 

— Irene  Hardy. 

Mammal  Stiidy  243 


Teacher's  Story 

His  small  umbrella,  quaintly  halved, 
Describing  in  the  air  an  arc  alike  inscrutable, — 
Elate  philosopher! — Emily  Dickenson. 

^HOEVER  first  said  "as  blind  as  a  bat,"  surely  never 
looked  a  bat  in  the  face,  or  he  would  not  have 
said  it.  The  deep-set,  keen,  observant  eyes  are 
quite  in  keeping  with  the  alert  attitude  of  the 
_  -  _  erect,  pointed  ears;  while  the  pug-nose  and  the 
wide  open,  little,  pink  bag  of  a  mouth,  set  with  tiny,  sharp  teeth,  give 
this  anomalous  little  animal  a  deliciously  impish  look.  Yet  how  have 
those  old  artists  behed  the  bat,  who  fashioned  their  demons  after  his 
pattern,  ears,  eyes,  nose,  mouth,  wings  and  all!  Certain  it  is,  if  human 
beings  ever  get  to  be  winged  angels  in  this  world,  they  are  far  more  likely 
to  have  their  wings  fashioned  like  those  of  the  bat  than  like  those  of  the 
bird.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  there  are  no  other  wings  so  wonderful  as  the 
bat's;  the  thin  membrane  is  equipped  with  sensitive  nerves  which 
inform  the  flier  of  the  objects  in  his  path,  so  that  he  darts  among  the 
branches  of  trees  at  terrific  speed  and  never  touches  a  twig;  a  blinded  bat 
was  once  set  free  in  a  room,  across  which  threads  were  stretched,  and 
he  flew  about  without  ever  touching  one.  After  we  have  tamed  one  of 
these  little,  silky  flitter-mice  we  soon  get  reconciled  to  his  wings  for  he 
proves  the  cunningest  of  pets;  he  soon  learns  who  feeds  him,  and  is  a 
constant  source  of  entertainment. 

The  flight  of  the  bat  is  the  highest  ideal  we  may  have,  for  the  achieve- 
ment of  the  aeroplane.  It  consists  of  darting  hither  and  thither  with 
incredible  swiftness,  and  making  sharp  turns  with  no  apparent  effort. 
Swifts  and  swallows  are  the  only  birds  that  can  compete  with  the  bat  in 
wing  celerity  and  agility;  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  these  birds  also 
catch  insects  on  the  wing,  for  food.  The  bat,  like  the  swift,  keeps  his 
mouth  open,  scooping  in  all  the  insects  in  his  way;  more  than  this,  he 
makes  a  collecting  net  of  the  wing  membrane,  stretched  between  the  hind 
legs  and  tail,  doubling  it  up  like  an  apron  on  the  unfortunate  insects,  and 
then  reaching  down  and  gobbling  them  up;  and  thus  he  is  always  doing 
good  service  to  us  on  summer  evenings  by  swallowing  mosquitoes  and 

The  short  fur  of  the  bat  is  as  soft  as  silk,  and  covers  the  body  but  not 
the  wings;  the  plan  of  the  wing  is  something  like  that  of  the  duck's  foot; 
it  consists  of  a  web  stretched  between  very  much  elongated  fingers.  If  a 
boy's  fingers  were  as  long  in  proportion,  as  a  bat's,  they  would  measure 
four  feet.  Stretched  between  the  long  fingers  is  a  thin,  rubbery  mem- 
brane, which  extends  back  to  the  ankles  and  thence  back  to  the  tip  of  the 
bony  tail;  thus,  the  bat  has  a  winged  margin  all  around  his  body.  Since 
fingers  make  the  framework,  it  is  the  thumb  that  projects  from  the  front 
angle  of  the  wing,  in  the  form  of  a  very  serviceable  hook,  resembling  that 
used  by  a  one-armed  man  to  replace  the  lost  member.  These  hooks  the 
bat  uses  in  many  ways.  He  drags  himself  along  the  floor  with  their  aid, 
or  he  scratches  the  back  of  his  head  with  them,  if  occasion  requires.  He 
is  essentially  a  creature  of  the  air  and  is  not  at  all  fitted  for  walking;  his 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

knees  bend  backward  in  an  opposite  direction  from  ours.  This  renders 
him  unable  to  walk,  and  when  attempting  to  do  so,  he  has  the  appearance 
of  "scrabbUng"  along  on  his  feet  and  elbows.  When  thus  moving  he 
keeps  his  wings  fluttering  rapidly,  as  if  feeling  his  way  in  the  dark,  and 
his  movements  are  as  trembly  as  those  of  a  palsied  old  man. 

The  little  brown  bat's  wings  often  measure  nine  inches  from  tip  to  tip, 
and  yet  he  folds  them  so  that  they  scarcely  show,   he  does  not  fold  them 
hke  a  fan,  but  rather  like  a  pocket  knife.     The  hind  legs  merely  act  as  a 
support  for  the  side  wing,  and  the  little  hip  bones  look  pitifully  sharp, 
the  membrane  reaches  only  to  the  ankle,  the  tiny  emaciated  foot  pro- 
jecting from  it  is  armed  with  five,  wirehke  toes,  tipped  with  sharp  hooked 
claws.''    It  is  by  these  claws  that  he  hangs  when  resting  during  the  day, 
for  he  is  upside-down-y  in  his  sleeping  habits,  slumbering  during  the  day- 
time, while  hanging  head  downward,  without  any  inconvenience  from  a 
rush'of  blood  to  the  brain;  when  thus  suspended,  the  tail  is  folded  down. 
Sometimes  he  hangs  by  one  hind  foot  and  a  front  hook,   and  he  is  a  wee 
thing  when  all  folded  together  and  hung  up,  with  his  nose  tucked  between 
his  h'ooked  thumbs,  in  a  very  babyish  fashion. 

The  bat  is  very  particular  about  his  personal  cleanliness.  People  who 
regard  the  bat  as  a  dirty  creature,  had  better  look  to  it  that  they  are  even 
half  as  fastidious  as  he.  He  washes  his  face  with  the  front  part  of  his 
wing,  and  then  licks  his  wash-cloth  clean,  he  scratches  the  back  of  his 
head'with  his  hind  foot  and  then  Hcks  the  foot,  when  hanging  head  down, 
he  will  reach  one  hind  foot  down  and  scratch  behind  his  ear  with  an 
aplomb  truly  comical  in  such  a  mite;  but  it  is  most  fun  of  all  to  see  him 
clean  his  wings ;  he  seizes  the  edges  in  his  mouth  and  stretches  and  licks 
the  membrane  until  we  are  sure  it  is  made  of  silk  elastic,  for  he  pulls  and 
hauls  it  in  a  way  truly  amazing. 

The  bat  has  a  voice  which  sounds  like  the  squeak  of  a  toy  wheelbarrow, 
and  yet  it  is  expressive  of  emotions.  He  squeaks  in  one  tone  when  holding 
conversation  with  other  bats,  and  squeaks  quite  differently  when  seized 
by  the  enemy. 

The  mother  bat  feeds  her  httle  ones  from  her  breasts  as  a  mouse  does 
its  young,  only  she  cradles  them  in  her  soft  wings  while  so  doing;  often 
she  takes  them  with  her  when  she  goes  out  for  insects  in  the  evenings; 
they  cling  to  her  neck  during  these  exciting  rides;  but  when  she  wishes  to 
work  unencumbered,  she  hangs  her  tiny  youngsters  on  some  twig  and 
goes  back  to  them  later.  The  little  ones  are  bom  in  July  and  usually 
occur  as  twins.  During  the  winter,  bats  hibernate  hke  woodchucks  or 
chipmunks.  They  select  for  winter  quarters  some  hollow  tree  or  cave  or 
other  protected  place.  They  go  to  sleep  when  the  cold  weather  comes, 
and  do  not  awake  until  the  insects  are  flying;  they  then  come  forth  m  the 
evenings,  or  perhaps  early  in  the  morning,  and  do  their  best  to  rid  the 
world  of 'mosquitoes  and  other  insect  nuisances. 

There  are  many  senseless  fears  about  the  bat;  for  instance,  that  he 
likes  to  get  tangled  in  a  lady's  tresses,  a  situation  which  would  frighten 
him  far  more  than  the  lady;  or  that  he  brings  bedbugs  into  the  house, 
when  he  enters  on  his  quest  for  mosquitoes,  which  is  an  ungrateful  slander. 
Some  people  believe  that  all  bats  are  vampires,  and  only  await  an  oppor- 
tunity to  suck  blood  from  their  victims.  It  is  true  that  in  South  America 
there  are  two  species  which  occasionally  attack  people  who  are  careless 
enough  to  sleep  with  their  toes  uncovered,  but  feet  thus  injured  seem  to 

Mammal  Study 


recover  speedily;  and  these  bats  do  little  damage  to  people,  although 
they  sometimes  pester  animals;  but  there  are  no  vampires  in  the  United 
States.  Our  bats,  on  the  contrary,  are  innocent  and  beneficial  to  man; 
and  if  we  had  more  of  them  we  should  have  less  malaria.  There  a  few 
species  in  our  country,  which  have  little,  leaf-like  growths  on  the  end  of 
the  nose;  and  when  scientists  study  the  bat  from  a  nature-study 
mstead  of  an  anatomical  standpoint,  we  shall  know  what  these  leafy 
appendages  are  used  for. 

The  little  brown  bat. 

The   Bat 

Leading  thought — Although  the  bat's  wings  are  very  dififerent  from 
those  of  the  bird's  yet  it  is  a  rapid  and  agile  flier.  It  flies  in  the  dusk  and 
catches  great  numbers  of  mosquitoes  and  other  troublesome  insects,  upon 
which  it  feeds. 

Method — This  lesson  should  not  be  given  unless  there  is  a  live  bat  to 
illustrate  it;  the  little  creature  can  be  cared  for  comfortably  in  a  cage  in 
the  schoolroom,  as  it  will  soon  learn  to  take  flies  or  bits  of  raw  meat  when 
presented  on  the  point  of  a  pencil  or  toothpick.  Any  bat  will  do  for  this 
study,  although  the  little  brown  bat  is  the  one  on  which  my  observations 
were  made. 

Observations — i .  At  what  time  of  day  do  we  see  bats  flying?  Describe 
how  the  bat's  flight  differs  from  that  of  birds.  Why  do  bats  dart  about 
so  rapidly? 

2.  Look  at  a  captive  bat  and  describe  its  wings.  Can  you  see  what 
makes  the  framework  of  the  wings?  Do  you  see  the  three  finger  bones 
extending  out  into  the  wings?  How  do  the  hind  legs  support  the  wing? 
The  tail?  Is  the  wing  membrane  covered  with  fur?  Is  it  thick  and 
leathery  or  thin  and  silky  and  elastic?  How  does  the  bat  fold  up  its 
wings  ? 

3.  In  what  position  does  the  bat  rest?  Does  it  ever  hang  by  his 
thumb  hooks? 

4.  Can  you  see  whether  the  knees  of  the  hind  legs  bend  upward  or 
downward?  How  does  the  bat  act  when  trying  to  walk  or  crawl?  How 
does  it  use  its  thumb  hooks  in  doing  this? 

5.  "What  does  the  bat  do  daytimes?  Where  does  it  stay  during  the 
day?     Do  many  bats  congregate  together  in  their  roosts? 

246  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

6.  Describe  the  bat's  head,  including  the  ears,  eyes,  nose  and  mouth. 
What  is  its  general  expression?  Do  you  think  it  can  see  and  hear  well? 
How  is  its  mouth  fitted  for  catching  insects?  Does  it  shut  its  mouth 
while  chewing  or  keep  it  open  ?  Do  you  think  that  bats  can  see  by  day- 

7.  What  noises  does  a  bat  make?  How  does  it  act  if  you  try  to 
touch  it?  Can  it  bite  severely?  Can  you  understand  why  the  Germans 
call  it  a  fiitter-mouse? 

8.  Do  you  know  how  the  mother  bat  cares  for  her  young?  How  does 
she  carry  them?     At  what  time  of  year  may  we  expect  to  find  them? 

9.  When  making  its  toilet,  how  does  a  bat  clean  its  wings?  Its  face? 
Its  back?     Its  feet?     Do  you  know  if  it  is  very  clean  in  his  habits? 

10.  How  and  where  do  the  bats  pass  the  winter?  How  are  they 
beneficial  to  us?     Are  they  ever  harmful? 

Supplementary  reading — American  Animals,  Stone  and  Cram. 

Nature-study  stionld  not  he  unrelated  to  the  child's  life  and  circumstances.  It 
stands  for  directness  and  naturalness.  It  is  astonishing  when  one  comes  to  think  of  it, 
how  indirect  and  how  remote  from,  the  lives  of  pupils  much  of  om  education  has  been. 
Geography  still  often  begins  with  the  universe,  and  finally,  perhaps,  comes  down  to 
some  concrete  and  familiar  object  or  scene  that  the  pupil  can  understand.  Arithmetic 
has  to  do  ivith  brokerage  and  partnerships  and  partial  payments  and  other  things  that 
mean  nothing  to  the  child.  Botany  begins  with  cells  and  protoplasm  and  cryptogams. 
History  deals  with  political  and  military  affairs,  and  only  rarely  comes  down  to  physical 
facts  and  to  those  events  that  express  the  real  lives  of  the  people;  and  yet  political  and 
social  affairs  arc  only  tht  results  of  expressions  of  the  ivay  in  which  people  live.  Read- 
ers begin  with  mere  literature  or  with  stories  of  scenes  the  child  will  never  see.  Of  course 
these  statements  are  meant  to  be  only  general,  as  illustrating  what  is  even  yet  a  great 
fault  in  educational  methods.  There  are  many  exceptions,  and  these  are  becoming 
commoner.  Surely,  the  best  education  is  that  which  begins  with  the  materials  at  hand. 
A  child  knows  a  stone  before  it  knows  the  earth. 

' — L.  H.  Bailey  in  "The  Nature-Study  Idea." 

Mammal  btudy 


Teacher's  Story 

HOSE  who  have  had  experience  with  this  animal,  surely 
are  glad  that  it  is  small;  and  the  wonder  always  is, 
that  so  little  a  creature  can  make  such  a  large  impres- 
sion upon  the  atmosphere.  A  fully  grown  skunk  is 
about  two  feet  long:  its  body  is  covered  with  long, 
shining,  rather  coarse  hair,  and  the  tail  which  is  carried 
like  a  flag  in  the  air,  is  very  large  and  bushy.  In  color, 
the  fur  is  sometimes  entirely  black,  but  most  often  has  a  white  patch  on 
the  back  of  the  neck,  with  two  stripes  extending  down  the  back  and 
along  the  sides  to  the  tail;   the  face,  also,  has  a  white  stripe. 

The  skunk  has  a  long  head  and  a  rather  pointed  snout;  its  front  legs 
are  very  much  shorter  than  its  hind  legs,  which  gives  it  a  very  peculiar 
gait.  Its  forefeet  are  armed  with  long,  strong  claws,  with  which  it  digs 
its  burrow,  which  is  usually  made  in  hght  soil.  It  also  often  makes  its 
home  in  some  crevice  in  rocks,  or  even  takes  possession  of  an  abandoned 
woodchuck's  hole;  or  trusting  to  its  immunity  from  danger,  makes  its 
home  under  the  barn.  In  the  fall,  it  becomes  very  fat,  and  during  the 
early  part  of  winter,  hibernates  within  its  den ;  it  comes  out  during  the 
thaws  of  winter  and  early  spring. 

The  young  skunks  appear  in  May ;  they  are  born  in  an  enlarged  portion 
of  the  burrow,  where  a  nice  bed  of  grass  and  leaves  is  made  for  them;  the 
skunk  is  scrupulously  neat  about  its  own  nest.  The  young  skunks  are 
very  active,  and  interesting  to  watch,  when  playing  together  like  kittens. 
The  skunk  belongs  to  the  same  family  as  the  mink  and  weasel,  which 
also  give  ofiE  a  disagreeable  odor  when  angry.  The  fetid  material  which 
is  the  skunk's  defence,  is  contained  in  two  capsules  under  the  root  of  the 
tail.  These  little  capsules  are  not  larger  than  peas,  and  the  quantity  of 
liquid  forced  from  them  in  a  discharge  is  scarcely  more  than  a  large  drop; 
yet  it  will  permeate  the  atmosphere  with  its  odor  for  a  distance  of  a  mile. 
The  fact  that  this  discharge  is  so  disagreeable  to  all  other  animals,  has  had 
a  retarding  influence  upon 
the  skunk's  intelligence.  It 
has  not  been  obliged  to  rely 
upon  its  cunning  to  escape  its 
enemies,  and  has  therefore 
never  developed  either  fear 
or  cleverness.  It  marches 
abroad  without  haste,  confi- 
dent that  every  creature 
which  sees  it  will  give  it  plenty 
of  room.  It  is  a  night 
prowler,  although  it  is  not 
averse  to  a  daytime  prome- 
nade. The  white  upon  its  fur 
gives  warning  at  night,  that 
here  is  an  animal  which  had 
best  be  left  alone.  This  im- 
munity from  attack  makes 
the  skunk  careless  in  learning 

Photo  by  Verne  -Morton 
The  skunk. 

248  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

wisdom  from  experience;  it  never  learns  to  avoid  a  trap  or  a  railway 
or  trolley  track. 

The  skunk's  food  consists  largely  of  insects,  mice,  snakes  and  other 
small  animals.  It  also  destroys  the  eggs  and  young  of  birds  which 
nest  upon  the  ground.  It  uses  its  strong  forepaws  in  securing  its 
prey.  Dr.  Merriam,  who  made  pets  of  young  skunks  after  removing 
their  scent  capsules,  found  them  very  interesting.  He  says  of  one 
which  was  named  "Meph":  "We  used  to  walk  through  the  woods 
to  a  large  meadow  that  abounded  in  grasshoppers.  Here,  Meph  would 
fairly  revel  in  his  favorite  food,  and  it  was  rich  sport  to  watch  his 
manoeuvres.  When  a  grasshopper  jumped,  he  jumped,  and  I  have  seen 
him  with  as  many  as  three  in  his  mouth  and  two  under  his  fore-paws  at 
the  same  time." 

The  only  injury  which  the  skunk  is  likely  to  do  to  the  farmers,  is  the 
raiding  of  the  hens'  nests,  and  this  can  be  obviated  by  properly  housing 
the  poultry.  On  the  other  hand,  the  skunk  is  of  great  use  in  destroying 
injurious  insects  and  mice.  Often  when  skunks  burrow  beneath  barns, 
they  completely  rid  the  place  of  mice.  Skunk  fur  is  very  valuable  and  is 
sold  under  the  name  of  Alaskan  sable.  The  skunk  takes  short  steps,  and 
goes  so  slowly  that  it  makes  a  double  track,  the  imprints  being  very  close 
together.  The  foot  makes  a  longer  track  than  that  of  the  cat,  as  the 
skunk  is  plantigrade ;  that  is,  it  walks  upon  its  palms  and  heels  as  well  as 
its  toes. 

Skunk  tracks. 

References — Wild  Neighbors,  Ingersoll;  Familiar  Life  in  Field  and 
Forest,  Mathews;  American  Animals,  Stone  and  Cram;  Squirrels  and 
Other  Fur  Bearers,  Burroughs. 

The  Skunk 

Leading  thought — The  skunk  has  depended  so  long  upon  protecting 
itself  from  its  enemies  by  its  disagreeable  odor,  that  it  has  become  stupid 
in  this  respect,  and  seems  never  to  be  able  to  learn  to  keep  off  of  railroad 
tracks.  It  is  a  very  beneficial  animal  to  the  farmer  because  its  food  con- 
sists so  largely  of  injurious  insects  and  rodents. 

Method — The  questions  should  be  given  the  pupils  and  they  should 
answer  them  from  personal  observations  or  inquiries. 

Observations — i.  How  large  is  a  skunk?  Describe  its  fur.  Where 
does  the  black  and  white  occur  in  the  fur?  Of  what  use  is  the  white  to 
the  skunk?     Is  the  fur  valuable?     What  is  its  commercial  name? 

2.  What  is  the  shape  of  the  skunk's  head?  The  general  shape  of  the 
body?  The  tail?  Are  the  front  legs  longer  or  shorter  than  the  hind  legs? 
Describe  the  front  feet.     For  what  are  they  used? 

3.  Where  and  how  does  the  skunk  make  its  nest?  Does  it  sleep  like 
a  woodchuck  during  the  winter?  What  is  its  food?  How  does  it  catch 
its  prey?     Does  it  hunt  for  its  food  during  the  day  or  the  night?     Does 

Mammal  Study  249 

the  skunk  ever  hurry?  Is  it  afraid?  How  does  it  protect  itself  from  its 
enemies?  Do  you  think  that  the  skunk's  freedom  from  fear  has  rendered 
the  animal  less  intelligent? 

4.  At  what  time  do  the  skunk  kittens  appear?  Have  you  ever  seen 
little  skunks  playing  ?  If  so,  describe  their  antics.  How  is  the  nest  made 
soft  for  the  young  ones  ? 

5.  How  does  the  skunk  benefit  farmers?  Does  it  ever  do  them  any 
injury?     Do  you  think  that  it  does  more  good  than  harm? 

6.  Describe  the  skunk's  track  as  follows:  How  many  toes  show  in 
the  track?  Does  the  palm  or  heel  show?  Are  the  tracks  near  together? 
Do  they  form  a  single  or  a  double  line? 

Supplementary  reading — Squirrels  and  Other  Fur  Bearers,  Burroughs. 

Saw  a  littl-c  skunk  coming  up  the  river  bank  in  the  woods  at  the  white  oak,  a  funny 
little  fellow,  about  six  inches  long  and  nearly  as  broad.  It  faced  me  and  actually  com- 
pelled me  to  retreat  before  it  for  -five  minutes.  Perhaps  I  was  between  it  and  its  hole. 
Its  broad  black  tail,  tipped  with  white,  was  erect  like  a  kitten's.  It  had  what  looked  like 
a  broad  ivhite  band  drawn  tight  across  its  forehand  or  top-head,  from  which  two  lines  of 
white  ran  down,  one  on  each  stde  of  its  back,  and  there  was  a  narroiv  white  line  down  its 
snout.  It  raised  tts  back,  sometimes  ran  a  few  feet  forward,  sometimes  backward,  and 
repeatedly  turned  its  tail  to  me,  prepared  to  discharge  its  fluid,  like  the  old  ones.  Suck 
was  its  instinct,  and  all  the  while  it  kept  -up  a  fine  grunting  like  a  kttle  pig  or  a  red 
squirrel. — Henry   Thoreau. 

Few  animals  are  so  silent  as  the  skunk.  Zoological  works  contain  no  information 
as  to  its  voice,  and  the  essayists  rarely  mention  it  except  by  implication.  Mr.  Bur- 
roughs says:  "The  most  silent  creature  known  to  me,  he  makes  no  sound,  so  far  as  I 
have  observed,  save  a  diffuse,  impatient  noise,  like  that  produced  by  beating  your  hand 
with  a  whisk-broom,  when  the  farm-dog  has  discovered  his  retreat  in  the  stone  fence." 
Rowland  Robinson  tells  us  that:  "The  voiceless  creature  sometimes  frightens  the 
belated  farm-boy,  ivhom  he  curiously  follows  with  a  mysterious  hollow  beating  of  his  feet 
upon  the  ground."  Thoreau,  as  has  been  mentioned,  heard  one  keep  up  a  "fine 
grunting,  like  a  little  pig  or  a  squirrel;"  but  he  seems  to  have  misunderstood  altogether  a 
singular  loud  patting  sound  heard  repeatedly  on  the  frozen  ground  under  the  wall,  which 
he  also  listened  to,  for  he  thought  it  "had  to  do  ivith  getting  its  food,  patting  the  eartli  to 
get  the  insects  or  worms."  Probably  he  would  have  omitted  this  guess  if  he  could  Jiave 
edited  his  diary  instead  of  leaving  that  to  be  done  after  his  death.  The  patting  is  evi- 
dently merely  a  nervous  sign  of  impatience  or  apprehension,  similar  to  the  well-known 
stamping  with  the  hind  feet  indulged  in  by  rabbits,  in  this  case  probably  a  menace  like  a 
doubling  of  the  fists,  as  the  hind  legs,  with  which  they  kick,  are  their  only  weapons. 
The  skunk,  then,  is  not  voiceless,  bid  its  voice  is  ivcak  and  querulous,  and  it  is  rarely  if 
ever  heard  except  in  the  expression  of  anger. 

— Ernest  Ingersol  in   "Wild  Xeighbors." 


Hmidbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  raccoon. 
Photo  by  George  Fiske,  Jr. 


Teacher's  Story 

n  ONE  other  of  our  little  brothers  of  the  forest, 
has  such  a  mischievous  countenance  as  the 
coon.  The  black  patch  across  the  face 
and  surrounding  the  eyes,  like  large  goggles, 
and  the  black  line  extending  from  the  long, 
inquisitive  nose  directly  up  the  forehead  give 
the  coon's  face  an  anxious  expression;  and 
the  keenness  of  the  big,  beady,  black  eyes 
and  the  alert,  "sassy"  looking,  broadly 
triangular  ears,  convince  one  that  the  anxiety 
depicted  in  the  face  is  anxiety  lest  something 
that  should  not  be  done  be  left  tmdone;   and 

I  am  sure  that  anyone  who  has  had  experience  with  pet  coons  will  aver 

that  their  acts  do  not  belie  their  looks. 
What      country      child, 

wandering  by  the  brook   and  -t 

watching    its    turbulence     in 

early  spring,  has  not  viewed 

with  awe,  a  footprint  on  the 

muddy  banks  looking  as  if  it 

were  made  by  the  foot  of   a  9 

very   little   baby.     The    first 

one    I  ever  saw,   I   promptly 

concluded  was  made   by   the 








^»     j9        — "■ 

Coon  tracks. 

Walking  2   Jumping 

Mammal  Study  251 

foot  of  a  brook  fairy.  However,  the  coon  is  no  fairy;  it  is  a  rather 
heavy,  logy  animal  and,  like  the  bear  and  skunk,  is  plantigrade,  walking 
on  the  entire  foot  instead  of  on  the  toes,  like  a  cat  or  dog.  The  hind  foot 
is  long,  with  a  well-marked  heel,  and  five  comparatively  short  toes,  giv- 
ing it  a  remarkable  resemblance  to  a  human  foot.  The  front  foot  is 
smaller  and  looks  like  a  wide,  little  hand,  with  fourlong  fingers  and  a 
rather  short  thumb.  The  claws  are  strong  and  sharp.  The  soles 
of  the  feet  and  the  palms  of  the  hands  look  as  if  they  were  covered 
with  black  kid,  while  the  feet  above  and  the  backs  of  the  hands  are 
covered  with  short  fur.  Coon  tracks  are  likely  to  be  found  during  the 
first  thawing  days  of  winter,  along  some  stream  or  the  borders  of 
swamps,  often  following  the  path  made  by  cattle.  The  full-length  track 
is  about  2  inches  long;  as  the  coon  puts  the  hind  foot  in  the  track  made  by 
the  front  foot  on  the  same  side,  only  the  print  of  the  hind  feet  is  left, 
showing  plainly  five  toe  prints  and  the  heel.  The  tracks  may  vary 
from  one-half  inch  to  one  foot  or  more  apart,  depending  on  how 
fast  the  animal  is  going;  when  it  runs  it  goes  on  its  toes,  but  when  walking 
sets  the  heel  down;  the  tracks  are  not  in  so  straight  a  hne  as  those  made 
by  the  cat.  Sometimes  it  goes  at  a  slow  jump,  when  the  prints  of  the 
hind  feet  are  paired,  and  between  and  behind  them  are  the  prints  of  the 
two  front  feet. 

The  coon  is  covered  with  long,  rather  coarse  hair,  so  long  as  to  almost 
drag  when  the  animal  is  walking;  it  really  has  two  different  kinds  of 
hair,  the  long,  coarse,  gray  hair,  blackened  at  the  tips,  covering  the  fine, 
short,  grayish  or  brownish  under  coat.  The  very  handsome  bushy  tail  is 
ringed  with  black  and  gray. 

The  raccoon  feeds  on  almost  anything  eatable,  except  herbage.  It  has 
a  special  predilection  for  com  in  the  milk  stage  and,  in  attaining  this 
sweet  and  toothsome  luxury,  it  strips  down  the  husks  and  often  breaks 
the  plant,  doing  much  damage.  It  is  also  fond  of  poultry  and  often  raids 
hen  houses;  it  also  destroys  birds'  nests  and  the  young,  thus  damaging 
the  farmer  by  killing  both  domestic  and  wild  birds.  It  is  especially  fond 
of  fish  and  is  an  adept  at  sitting  on  the  shore  and  catching  them  with  its 
hands;  it  likes  turtle  eggs,  crayfish  and  snakes;  it  haunts  the  bayous  of 
the  Gulf  Coast  for  the  oysters  which  grow  there;  it  is  also  a  skillful  frog 
catcher.  Although  fond  of  animal  diet,  it  is  also  fond  of  fruit,  especially 
of  berries  and  wild  grapes. 

It  usually  chooses  for  a  nest  a  hollow  tree  or  a  cavern  in  a  ledge  near  a 
stream,  because  of  its  liking  for  water  creatures;  and  also  because  of  its 
strange  habit  of  washing  its  meat  before  eating  it.  I  have  watched  a  pet 
coon  performing  this  act;  he  would  take  a  piece  of  meat  in  his  hands, 
dump  it  into  the  pan  of  drinking  water  and  souse  it  up  and  down  a  few 
times;  then  he  would  get  into  the  pan  with  his  splay  feet  and  roll  the  meat 
beneath  and  between  them,  meanwhile  looking  quite  unconcernedly  at  his 
surroundings,  as  if  washing  the  meat  were  an  act  too  mechanical  to  occupy 
his  mind.  After  the  meat  had  become  soaked  until  white  and  flabby,  he 
would  take  it  in  his  hands  and  hang  on  to  it  with  a  tight  grip  while  he 
pulled  off  pieces  with  his  teeth;  or  sometimes  he  would  hold  it  with  his 
feet,  and  use  hands  as  well  as  teeth  in  tearing  it  apart.  The  coon's  teeth 
are  very  much  like  those  of  the  cat,  having  long,  sharp  tushes  or  canines, 
and  sharp,  wedge-shaped  grinding  teeth,  which  cut  as  well  as  grind! 
After  eating,  the  pet  coon  always  washed  his  feet  by  splashing  them  in 
the  pan. 

252  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

It  is  a  funny  sight  to  watch  a  coon  arrange  itself  for  a  nap,  on  a  branch 
or  in  the  fork  of  a  tree,  it  adapts  its  fat  body  to  the  unevenness  of  the  bed 
with  apparent  comfort ;  it  then  tucks  its  nose  down  between  its  paws  and 
curls  its  tail  about  itself,  making  a  huge,  furry  ball.  In  all  probability, 
the  rings  of  gray  and  black  on  the  tail,  serve  as  protective  color  to  the 
animal  sleeping  in  a  tree  during  the  daytime,  when  sunshine  and  shadow 
glance  down  between  the  leaves  with  ever-changing  light.  The  coon 
spends  much  of  its  days  asleep  in  some  such  situation,  and  comes  forth  at 
night  to  seek  its  food. 

In  the  fall,  the  coon  lays  on  fat  enough  to  last  it  during  its  winter  sleep. 
Usually  several  inhabit  the  same  nest  in  winter,  lying  curled  up  together 
in  a  hollow  tree,  and  remaining  dormant  all  winter  except  when  awakened 
by  the  warmth  of  a  thaw.  They  then  may  come  forth  to  see  what  is 
happening,  but  return  shortly  to  wait  until  March  or  April;  then  they 
issue  to  hunt  for  the  scant  food,  and  are  so  lean  and  weak  that  they  fall 
easy  prey  to  their  enemies. 

The  young  are  born  in  April  and  May;  there  are  from  three  to  six  in  a 
litter;  they  are  blind  and  helpless  at  first,  and  are  cared  for  carefully 
by  their  parents,  the  family  remaining  together  for  a  year,  until  the  young 
are  fully  grown.  If  removed  from  their  parents  the  young  ones  cry 
pitifully,  almost  like  babies.  The  cry  or  whistle  of  the  fully  grown  coon 
is  anything  but  a  happy  sound,  and  is  quite  impossible  to  describe.  I 
have  been  awakened  by  it  many  a  night  in  camp,  and  it  always  sounded 
strange,  taking  on  each  time  new  quavers  and  whimperings.  As  a  cry, 
it  is  first  cousin  to  that  of  the  screech-owl. 

The  stories  of  pet  coons  are  many.  I  knew  one  which,  chained  in  a 
yard,  would  lie  curled  up  near  its  post  looking  like  an  innocent  stone 
except  for  one  eye  kept  watchfully  open.  Soon  a  hen,  filled  with  curiosity 
would  come  warily  near,  looking  longingly  at  remains  of  food  in  the  pan ; 
the  coon  made  no  move  until  the  disarmed  biddy  came  close  to  the  pan. 
Then,  there  was  a  scramble  and  a  squawk  and  with  astonishing  celerity 
he  would  wring  her  neck  and  strip  off  her  feathers.  Another  pet  coon 
was  allowed  to  range  over  the  house  at  will,  and  finally  had  to  be  sent 
away  because  he  had  learned  to  open  every  door  in  the  house,  including 
cupboard  doors,  and  could  also  open  boxes  and  drawers  left  unlocked; 
and  I  have  always  believed  he  could  have  learned  to  unlock  drawers  if  he 
had  been  given  the  key.  All  coons  are  very  curious,  and  one  way  of 
trapping  them  is  to  suspend  above  the  trap  a  bit  of  bright  tin;  in  solving 
this  glittering  mystery,  traps  are  forgotten. 


The  Raccoon 

Leading  thought — The  raccoon  lives  in  hollow  trees  or  caves  along 
the  banks  of  streams.  It  sleeps  during  the  day  and  seeks  its  food  at 
night      It  sleeps  during  the  winter. 

Method — If  there  are  raccoons  in  the  vicinity,  ask  the  older  boys  to 
look  for  their  tracks  rear  the  streams  and  to  describe  them  very  care- 
fully to  the  class.  The  ideal  method  of  studying  the  animal,  is  to 
have  a  pet  coon  where  the  children  may  watch  at  leisure  its  enter- 
taining and  funny  performances.    If  this  is  impossible,  then  follow  the 

Mammal  Study 


less  desirable  method  of  having  the  pupils  read  about  the  habits  of  the 
coon  and  thus  arouse  their  interest  and  open  their  eyes,  so  that  they 
may  make  observations  of  their  own  when  opportunity  offers.  I  would 
suggest  the  following  topics  for  oral  or  written  work  in  English: 

"How  and  Where  Coons  Live  and  What  They  Do;"  "The  Autobio- 
graphy of  a  Coon  One  Year  Old;"  "The  Queer  Antics  of  Pet  Coons;" 
"Stories  of  the  Coon's  Relative,  the  Bear." 


Observations — i.  Where  have  you  found  raccoon  tracks?  How  do 
they  differ  from  those  of  fox  or  dog?  How  far  are  the  footprints  apart? 
Can  you  see  the  heel  and  toe  prints?  Do  you  see  the  tracks  of  all  four 
feet?  Are  the  tracks  in  a  straight  line  like  those  of  the  cat?  What  is  the 
size  of  the  track,  the  length,  the  breadth? 

2.  What  do  coons  eat  and  how  do  they  get  their  food?  Which  of  our 
crops  are  they  likely  to  damage?  What  other  damage  do  they  do? 
Have  you  ever  heard  coons  cry  or  whistle  during  August  nights  in  the 


Hmidbook  of  Nature-Study 

Has  it  teeth  resembling 

3.  Why  do  raccoons  Hke  to  Hve  near  the  water?  What  do  they  find 
of  interest  there?  How  do  they  prepare  their  meat  before  eating  it? 
How  does  a  coon  handle  its  meat  while  eating  it? 

4.  AVhat  kind  of  fur  has  the  coon?  Why  does  it  need  such  a  heavy 
covering  ?  Describe  the  color  of  the  fur.  Describe  the  tail.  Of  what  use 
is  such  a  large  and  bushy  tail  to  this  animal? 

5.  Describe  the  coon's  face.     How  is  it  marked?     What  is  its  expres 
sion  ?     Describe  the  eyes  and  ears.     The  nose, 
those  of  the  cat  and  dog? 

6.  Describe  the  coon's  feet.  How  many  toes  on  the  front  feet? 
How  many  on  the  hind  feet?  How  does  this  differ  from  the  cat  and  dog? 
How  do  the  front  and  hind  feet  differ  in  appearance?  Can  both  be  used 
as  hands  ? 

7.  How  do  coons  arrange  themselves  for  a  nap  in  a  tree?  How  do 
they  cover  the  head?  How  is  the  tail  used?  Do  you  think  this  bushy 
tail  used  in  this  way  would  help  to  keep  the  animal  warm  in  winter? 
Do  coons  sleep  most  daytimes  or  nights? 

8.  At  what  time  of  year  are  coons  fattest?  Leanest?  Why?  Do 
they  ever  come  out  of  their  nests  in  winter?  Do  they  live  together  or 
singly  in  winter? 

9.  At  what  time  of  year  are  the  young  coons  born?  Do  you  know 
how  they  look  when  they  are  young?  How  are  they  cared  for  by  their 

10.  Are  the  coon's  movements  slow  or  fast?  What  large  animal  is 
a  near  relative  of  the  coon? 

Supplementary  reading — American  Animals,  Stone  and  Cram;  Wild 
Neighbors,  Ingersoll;  Familiar  Life  of  Field  and  Forest,  Mathews;  Little 
People  of  the  Sycamore,  Roberts;  Life  of  Animals,  Ingersoll;  "Mux"  in 
Roof  and  Meadow,  Sharp;   Little  Brother  of  the  Bear,  Long. 

Professor  Fred  S.  Charles  and  his  pet  coon,  ''Dick". 

Mammal  Sttuiy 



HE  study  of  the  wolf  should  precede  the  lessons 
on  the  fox  and  the  dog.  After  becoming 
familiar  with  the  habits  of  wolves,  the  pupils 
will  be  much  better  able  to  understand  the 
nature  of  the  dog  and  its  life  as  a  wild  animal. 
In  most  localities,  the  study  of  the  wolf  m_ust, 
of  course,  be  a  matter  of  reading,  unless  the 
pupils  have  an  opportunity  to  study  the 
animal  in  traveling  manageries  or  in  zoo- 
logical gardens.  However,  in  all  the  gov- 
ernment preserves,  the  timber  wolf  has 
multiplied    to    such  an  extent,  that  it  may 

become  a  factor  in  the  lives  of  many  people  in  the  United  States.     This 

Wolf  ranged  in  packs  over  New  York  State  a   hundred  years  ago,  but 

was  finally  practically  exterminated  in  most  of  the  eastern  forests,  except 

in   remote  and  mountainous  localities.     A  glance  at   Bulletin    72    by 

Vernon   Bailey,   published  by  the  U.    S.    Department  of  Agriculture, 

Forest  Service,  is   a  revelation   of  the   success   of  the   timber  wolf,  iii 

coming   back   to   his  own,  as  soon  as  the  forest    preserves    furnished 

plenty  of  game,  and  forbade  hunters.     Timber  wolves  are  returning  of 

late  years  to  Western  Maine  and  Northern  New  Hampshire;    Northern 

Michigan  and  Wisconsin  have  them  in  greater  numbers ;   some  have  also 

been  killed  in  the  Apalachian  Mountains  of  Tennessee,  Virginia  and  West 

Virginia,  but  their  stronghold  is  in  the  great  Rocky  Mountain  Region  and 

the  Northwestern  Sierras,  from  which  they  have  never  been  driven. 
It  might  be  well  to  begin  this  lesson  on  the  wolf  with  a  talk  about  the 

gray  wolves    which 

our  ancestors  had  to 

contend  with,    and 

also  with  stories  of 

the  coyote  or  prairie 

wolf     which      has 

learned    to    adapt 

itself  to  civilization 

and  flourishes  in  the 

regions  west  of  the 

Rocky     Mountains, 

despite    men     and 

dogs.     Literature  is 

rich  in  wolf  stories. 

Although    Kipling's 

famous        M  o  w  g  1  i 

Stories    belong     t  o 

the  realm  of  fiction, 

yet     they     contain 

interesting  accounts 

of  the  habits  of  the 

wolves  of  India,  and 

are  based  upon  the 

himter's  and  track- 

Gray  Wolf 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

er's  knowledge  of  these  animals.  We  have  many  thrillingly  interesting 
stories  in  our  own  literature  which  deal  with  our  native  wolves.  The 
following  are  among  the  best : 

"Lobo"  in  Wild  Animals  I  Have  Known;  "Tito"  in  Lives  of  the 
Hunted;  "Bad  Lands  Billy  and  the  Winnipeg  Wolf"  in  Animal  Heroes 
all  by  Thompson  Seton;  "The  Passing  of  Black  Whelps"  in  Watchers  of 
the  Trail  by  Roberts;  Northern  Trails  by  Long;  "Pico,  Coyote"  by  Coolidge 
in  True  Tales  of  Birds  and  Beasts. 

For  more  serious  accounts  of  the  wolves  see  American  Animals, 
p.  277;  The  "Hound  of  the  Plains,  "in  Wild  Neighbors,  and  page  188  in 
the  Life  of  Animals,  both  by  IngersoU.  "The  Coyote"  by  Bret  Harte  and 
"The  Law  of  the  Pack"  in  the  Second  Jungle  Book  bring  the  wolf 
into  poetry. 

From  some  or  all  of  these  stories,  the  pupils  should  get  informa- 
tion about  the  habits  of  the  wolves.  This  information  should  be  in- 
corporated in  an  essay  or  an  oral  exercise  and  should  cover  the  following 
points:  Where  do  the  wolves  live?  On  what  do  they  feed?  How 
do  they  get  their  prey?  Do  they  hunt  alone  or  in  packs?  How  do  they 
call  to  each  other?  IDescription  of  the  den  where  the  young  are  reared. 
The  wolf's  cleverness  in  eluding  hunters  and  traps. 

' Katrina  'W'olfchen" .  the  pet  coyote  of  Professor  Fred  S.  Charles. 

Mammal  Study 


Fox  cubs. 


Teacher's  Story 

O  WE  not  always,  on  a  clear  morning  of  winter,  feel  a 
thrill  that  must  have  something  primitive  in  its 
quality,  at  seeing  certain  tracks  in  the  snow  that 
somehow  suggest  wildness  and  freedom!  Such 
is  the  track  of  the  fox.  Although  it  is  somewhat 
-;like  that  of  a  small  dog  yet  it  is  very  different. 
The  fox  has  longer  legs  than  most  dogs  of  his 
weight,  and  there  is  more  of  freedom  in  his  track 
and  more  of  strength  and  agility  expressed  in  it. 
His  gait  is  usually  an  easy  lope;  this  places  the 
imprint  of  three  feet  in  a  line,  one  ahead  of 
another,  but  the  fourth  is  off  a  little  at  one  side,  as  if  to  keep  the  balance. 
The  fox  lives  in  a  den  or  burrow.  The  only  fox  home  which  I  ever 
saw,  was  a  rather  deep  cave  beneath  the  roots  of  a  stump,  and  there  was 
no  burrow  or  retreat  beyond  it.  However,  foxes  often  select  woodchuck 
burrows,  or  make  burrows  of  their  own,  and  if  they  are  caught  within, 
they  can  dig  rapidly,  as  many  a  hunter  can  attest.  The  mother  usually 
selects  an  open  place  for  a  den  for  the  young  foxes;  often  an  open  field  or 
side-hill  is  chosen  for  this.  The  den  is  carpeted  with  grass  and  is  a  very 
comfortable  place  for  the  fox  puppies.  The  den  of  the  father  fox  is 
usually  not  far  away. 

The  face  of  the  red  fox  shows  plainly  why  he  has  been  able  to  cope  with 
man,  and  thrive  despite  and  because  of  him.  If  ever  a  face  showed 
cunning,  it  is  his.  Its  pointed,  slender  nose  gives  it  an  expression  of 
extreme  cleverness,  while  the  width  of  the  head  between  the  upstanding, 
triangular  ears  gives  room  for  a  brain  of  power.  In  color  the  fox  is  russet- 
red,  the  hind  quarters  being  grayish.  The  legs  are  black  outside  and 
white  inside ;  the  throat  is  white,  and  the  broad,  triangular  ears  are  tipped 
with  black.  The  glory  of  the  fox  is  his  "brush,"  as  the  beautiful,  bushy 
tail  is  called.  This  is  red,  with  black  toward  the  end  and  white-tipped. 
This  tail  is  not  merely  for  beauty,  for  it  affords  the  fox  warmth  during  the 
winter,  as  any  one  may  see  who  has  observed  the  way  it  is  wrapped 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

around  the  sleeping  animal.  But  this  bushy  tail  is  a  disadvantage,  if  it 
becomes  bedraggled  and  heavy  with  snow  and  sleet,  when  the  hounds  are 
giving  close  chase  to  its  owner.  The  silver  fox  and  the  black  fox  are  the 
same  species  as  the  red  fox. 

The  fox  is  an  inveterate  hunter  of  the  animals  of  the  field;  meadow 
mice,  rabbits,  woodchucks,  frogs,  snakes  and  grasshoppers,  are  all 
acceptable  food;  he  is  also  destructive  of  birds.  His  fondness  for  the 
latter  has  given  him  a  bad  reputation  with  the  farmer  because  of  his 
attacks  on  poultry.  Not  only  will  he  raid  hen-roosts  if  he  can  force 
entrance,  but  he  catches  many  fowls  in  the  summer  when  they  are  wander- 
ing through  the  fields.  The  way  he  carries  the  heavy  burden  of  his 
larger  prey  shows  his  cleverness:  He  slings  a  hen  or  a  goose  over  his 
shoulders,  keeping  the  head  in  his  mouth  to  steady  the  burden.  Mr. 
Cram  says,  in  American  Animals: 

"Yet,  although  the  farmer  and  the  fox  are  such  inveterate  enemies, 
they  manage  to  benefit  each  other  in  a  great  many  ways  quite  uninten- 
tionally. The  fox  destroys  numberless  field  mice  and  woodchucks  for  the 
farmer  and  in  return  the  farmer  supplies  him  with  poultry,  and  builds 
convenient  bridges  over  streams  and  wet  places,  which  the  fox  crosses 
oftener  than  the  farmer,  for  he  is  as  sensitive  as  a  cat  about  getting  his 
feet  wet.  On  the  whole,  I  am  inclined  to  believe  that  the  fox  gets  the 
best  part  of  the  exchange,  for,  while  the  farmer  shoots  at  him  on  every 
occasion,  and  hunts  him  with  dogs  in  the  winter,  he  has  cleared  the  land 
of  wolves  and  panthers,  so  that  foxes  are  probably  safer  than  before  any 
land  was  ploughed." 

The  bark  of  the  fox  is  a  high,  sharp  yelp,  more  like  the  bark  of  the 
coyote  than  of  the  dog.  There  is  no  doubt  a  considerable  range  of 
meaning  in  the  fox's  language,  of  which  we  are  ignorant.  He  growls 
when  angry,  and  when  pleased  he  smiles  like  a  dog  and  wags  his  beautiful 

Many  are  the  wiles  of  the  fox  to  head  off  dogs  following  his  track:     he 

often  retraces  his  own 
steps  for  a  few  yards 
and  then  makes  a  long 
sidewise  jump ;  the 
dogs  go  on,  up  to  the 
end  of  the  trail 
pocket,  and  try  in 
vain  to  get  the  scent 
from  that  point. 
Sometimes  he  walks 
along  the  top  rails  of 
fences  or  takes  the 
high  and  dry  ridges 
where  the  scent  will 
not  remain;  he  often 
follows  roads  and 
beaten  paths  and  also 
goes  around  and 
around  in  the  midst 
of  a  herd  of  cattle, 
so  that  his  scent  is 
Red  Fox.  hidden;      he     crosses 

Mammal  Study 


streams  on  logs  and  invents  various  other  devices  too  numerous  and 
intricate  to  describe.  When  chased  by  dogs,  he  naturally  runs  in  a 
circle,  probably  so  as  not  to  be  too  far  from  home  If  there  are  young 
ones  in  the  den,  the  father  fox  leads  the  hounds  far  away,  in  the  next 
county,  if  possible.  Perhaps  one  of  the  most  clever  tricks  of  the  fox,  is 
to  make  friends  with  the  dogs.  I  have  known  of  two  instances  where 
a   dog   and   fox   wxre  daily  companions  and  playfellows. 

The  young  foxes  are  bom  in  the  spring.  They  are  black  at  first  and 
are  fascinating  little  creatures,  being  exceedingly  playful  and  active. 
Their  parents  are  very  devoted  to  them,  and  during  all  their  puppyhood, 
the  mother  fox  is  a  menace  to  the  poultry  of  the  region,  because  the 
necessity  is  upon  her  of  feeding  her  rapidly  growing  litter. 

In  my  opinion,  the  best  story  of  animal  fiction  is  "Red  Fox"  by 
Roberts.  Like  all  good  fiction,  it  is  based  upon  facts  and  it  presents  a 
wholesome  picture  of  the  life  of  the  successful  fox.  "The  Silver  Fox"  by 
Thompson  Seton  is  another  interesting  and  delightful  story.  Although 
the  Nights  with  Uncle  Remus  could  scarcely  be  called  nature  stories, 
3"et  they  are  interesting  in  showing  how  the  fox  has  become  a  part  of 

Fox  tracks. 

The  Fox 

Leading  thought — The  red  fox  is  so  clever  that  it  has 
been  able,  in  many  parts  of  our  country,  to  maintain 
itself  despite  dogs  and  men. 

Method — This  lesson  is  likely  to  be  given  largely  from 
hearsay  or  reading.  However,  if  the  school  is  in  a  rural 
district,  there  will  be  plenty  of  hunters'  stories  afloat, 
from  which  may  be  elicited  facts  concerning  the  cunning 
and  cleverness  of  the  red  fox.  In  such  places  there  is 
also  the  opportunity  in  winter  to  study  fox  tracks  upon 
the  snow.  The  lesson  may  well  be  given  when  there  are 
fox  tracks  for  observation.  The  close  relationship 
between  foxes  and  dogs  should  be  emphasized. 
Observations  and  reading — i.  Describe  the  fox's  track.  How  does  it 
differ  from  the  track  of  a  small  dog? 

2.  Where  does  the  fox  make  its  home?  Describe  the  den.  Describe 
the  den  in  which  the  young  foxes  live. 

3.  Describe  the  red  fox,  its  color  and  form  as  completely  as  you  can. 
What  is  the  expression  of  its  face?  What  is  there  peculiar  about  its  tail? 
What  is  the  use  of  this  great  bushy  tail  in  the  winter? 

4.  What  is  the  food  of  the  fox?  How  does  it  get  its  food?  Is  it  a 
day  or  a  night  hunter?  How  does  the  fox  benefit  the  farmer?  How  doe? 
it  injure  him?  How  does  the  fox  carry  home  its  heavy  game,  such  as  a 
goose  or  a  hen  ? 

2  6o 

Hajidbook  of  Nature-Study 

"Got  a  bite". 

5.     Have  you  ever  heard  the  fox  bark?     Did  it  sound  like  the  bark 
of  a  dog?     How  does  the  fox  express  anger?     Pleasure? 

6.  When  chased  by  dogs,  in  what 
direction  does  che  fox  run  ?  Describe 
all  of  the  tricks  which  you  know  by 
which  the  fox  throws  the  dog  off  the 

7.  AVhen  are  the  young  foxes 
bom?  How  many  in  a  litter?  What 
color  are  they?  How  do  they  play 
with  each  other?  How  do  they  learn 
to  hunt? 

Supplementary  reading — Red  Fox 
by  Roberts;  Silver  Fox  by  Thompson 
Seton;  Little  Beasts  of  Field  and 
Wood,  page  25;  Squirrels  and  Other 
Fur  Bearers,  chapter  7 ;  Fox  Ways  in 
Ways  of  Wood  Folk,  The  Springfield  Fox  in  Wild  Animals  I  Have 
Known;  Familiar  Wild  Animals;  Familiar  Life  in  Field  and  Forest,  page 
213;  American  Animals,  page  264;  Nights  with  Uncle  Remus. 

A  pet  red  fox. 
Photo  by  Fred  S.  Charles. 

Mammal  Study 




Teacher's  Story 

I"  OT   only  to-day    but    in    ancient    days,    before    the    dawn 
^  of  history,  the  dog  was  the  companion  of  man. 

\  "Whether  the  wild  species  from  whence  he  sprang, 

\,^^  was  wolf  or  jackal  or  some  other  similar  animal,  we 
..jimm'^^  do  not  know,  but  w^e  do  know  that  many  types  of 
dogs  have  been  tamed  independently  by  savages, 
in  the  region  where  their  untamed  relatives  run 
wild.  As  the  whelps  of  wolves,  jackals  and  foxes 
are  all  easily  tamed,  and  are  most  interesting  little 
creatures,  we  can  understand  how  they  became  companions  to  the  children 
of  the  savage  and  barbarous  peoples  who  hunted  them. 

In  the  earliest  records  of  cave  dwellers,  in  the  picture  writing  of  the 
ancient  Egyptians  and  of  other  ancient  peoples,  we  find  record  of  the 
presence  and  value  of  the  dog.  But  man,  in  historical  times,  has  been 
able  to  evolve  breeds  that  vary  more  in  form  than  do  the  wild  species  of 
the  present.  There  are  200  distinct  breeds  of  dogs  known  to-day,  and 
many  of  these  have  been  bred  for  special  purposes.  The  paleontologists, 
moreover,  assure  us  that  there  has  been  a  decided  advance  in  the  size  and 
quality  of  the  dog's  brain  since  the  days  of  his  savagery ;  thus,  he  has  been 
the  companion  of  man's  civilization  also.  It  is  not,  therefore,  to  be 
wondered  at  that  the  dog  is  now  the  most  companionable,  and  has  the 
most  human  qualities  and  intelligence  of  all  our  domesticated  animals. 

Dogs  run  down  their  prey ;  it  is  a  necessity,  therefore,  that  they  be 
equipped  with  legs  that  are  long,  strong  and  muscular.  The  cat,  which 
jumps  for  her  prey,  has  much  more  delicate  legs  but  has  powerful  hi]«  to 
enable  her  to  leap.  The  dog's  feet  are  much  more  heavily  padded  than 
those  of  the  cat,  because  in  running,  he  must  not  stop  to  save  his  feet. 
Hounds  often  return  from  a  chase  with  bleeding  feet,  despite  the  heavy 
pads,  but  the  w^ounds  are  usually  cuts  between  the  toes.  The  claws  are 
heavy  and  are  not  retractile;  thus,  they  afford  a  protection  to  the  feet 
when  running,  and  they  are  also  used  for  digging  out  game  which  burrows 
into  the  ground.  They  are  not  used  for  grasping  prey  like  those  of  the  cat 
and  are  used  only  incidentally  in  fighting,  while  the  cat's  claws  are  the 
most  important  weapons  in  her  armory.  It  is  an  interesting  fact  that 
Newfoundland  dogs,  which  are  such  famous  swimmers,  have  their  toes 
somewhat  webbed. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


The  dog's  body  is  long,  lean,  and 
very  muscular,  a  fat  dog  being 
usually  pampered  and  old.  The 
coat  is  of  hair  and  is  not  of  fine  fur 
like  that  of  the  cat.  It  is  of  inter- 
est to  note  that  the  Newfoundland 
dog  has  an  inner  coat  of  fine  hair 
comparable  to  that  of  the  mink  or 
muskrat.  When  a  dog  is  running, 
his  body  is  extended  to  its  fullest 
length;  in  fact,  it  seems  to  "lie 
flat,"  the  outstretched  legs  height- 
ening the  effect  of  extreme  muscular 
effort  of  forward  movement.  A 
dog  is  master  of  several  gaits;  he 
can  run,  walk,  trot,  botmd  and 

The  iris  of  the  dog's  eye  is 
usually  of  a  beautiful  brown,  al- 
though this  varies  with  breeds;  in 
puppies,  the  iris  is  usually  blue.  The  pupil  is  round  like  our  own;  and 
dogs  cannot  see  well  in  the  dark  like  the  cat,  but  in  daylight  they  have 
keen  sight.  The  nose  is  so 
much  more  efficient  than  the 
eyes,  that  it  is  on  the  sense  of 
smell  the  dog  depends  for  fol- 
lowing his  prey  and  for  recog- 
nizing friend  and  foe.  The 
damp,  soft  skin  that  covers 
the  nose,  has  in  its  dampness 
the  conditions  for  carrying 
the  scent  to  the  wide  nostrils; 
these  are  situated  at  the  most 
forward  part  of  the  face,  and 
thus  may  be  lifted  in  any 
direction  to  receive  the  mar- 
velous impressions,  so  com- 
pletely beyond  our  compre- 
hension. Think  of  being  able 
to  scent  the  track  of  a  fox 
made  several  hours  previously. 
Not  only  to  scent  it,  but  to 
follow  by  scent  for  many  miles  without  ever  having  a  glimpse  of  the  fleeing 
foe!  In  fact,  while  running,  the  dog's  attention  seems  to  be  focused 
entirely  upon  the  sense  of  smell,  for  I  have  seen  hounds  pass  within  a  few 
rods  to  the  windward  of  the  fox  they  were  chasing,  without  observing  him 
at  all.  When  the  nose  of  any  of  the  moist-nosed  beasts,  such  as  cattle 
and  dogs,  becomes  dry  it  is  a  sign  of  illness. 

A  light  fall  of  damp  snow  gives  the  dog  the  best  conditions  for  follow- 
ing a  track  by  scent  and  a  hound,  when  on  the  trail,  will  run  until  ex- 
hausted. There  are  many  authentic  observations  which  show  that 
hounds  have  followed  a  fox  for  twenty-four  hours  without  food,  and 
probably  with  little  rest. 

Bird  dog. 

Mammal  Study 


The  dog's  weapons  for  battle,  like  those  of  the  wolf,  are  his  tushes; 
with  these,  he  holds  and  tears  his  prey;  with  them,  he  seizes  the  wood- 
chuck  or  other  small  animal  through  the  back  and  shakes  its  life  out.  In 
fighting  a  larger  animal,  the  dog  leaps  against  it  and  often  incidentally 
tears  its  flesh  with  his  strong  claws;  but  he  does  not  strike  a  blow  with  his 
foot  like  the  cat,  nor  can  he  hold  his  quarry  with  it. 

Dog's  teeth  are  especially  fitted  for  their  work. 
The  incisors  are  small  and  sharp;  the  canine  teeth 
or  tushes  are  very  long,  but  there  are  bare  spaces  on 
the  jaws  so  that  they  are  able  to  cross  past  each 
other;  the  molar  teeth  are  not  fitted  for  grinding, 
like  the  teeth  of  a  cow,  but  are  especially  fitted  for 
cutting,  as  may  be  noted  if  we  watch  the  way  a  dog 
gnaws  bones,  first  gnawing  with  the  back  teeth  on 
one  side  and  then  on  the  other.  In  fact,  a  dog 
does  not  seem  to  need  to  chew  anything,  but  simply 
needs  to  cut  his  meat  in  small  enough  pieces  so  that 
he  can  gulp  them  down  without  chewing.  His 
powers  of  digesting  unchewed  food  are  something 
that  the  hustling  American  may  well  envy. 

Of  all  domestic  animals,  the  dog  is  most  humanly  understandable  in 
expressing  emotions.  If  delighted,  he  leaps  about  giving  ecstatic 
little  barks  and  squeals,  his  tail  in  the  air  and  his  eyes  full  of  happy  an- 


"Mateo",  a  St.  Bernard  of  long  pedigree. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

ticipation.  If  he  wishes  to  be  friendly,  he  looks  at  us  interestedly,  comes 
over  to  smell  of  us  in  order  to  assure  himself  whether  he  has  ever  met  us 
before,  and  then  wags  his  tail  as  a  sign  of  good  faith.  If  he  wishes  to 
show  affection,  he  leaps  upon  us  and  licks  our  face  or  hands  with  his 
soft,  deft  tongue  and  follows  us  jealously.  When  he  stands  at  attention, 
he  holds  his  tail  stiff  in  the  air,  and  looks  up  with  one  ear  lifted  as  if 
to  say,  "Well,  what's  doing?"  When  angry,  he  growls  and  shows  his 
teeth  and  the  tail  is  held  rigidly  out  behind,  as  if  to  convince  us  that  it 
is  really  a  continuation  of  his  backbone.  When  afraid,  he  whines  and 
lies  flat  upon  his  belly,  often  looking  beseechingly  up  toward  his  master  as 
if  begging  not  to  be  punished;  or  he  crawls  away  out  of  sight.  When 
ashamed,  he  drops  his  tail  between  his  legs  and  with  drooping  head  and 
sidewise  glance  slinks  away.  When  excited,  he  barks  and  every  bark 
expresses  high  nervous  tension. 

Almost  all  dogs  that  chase  their  prey,  bark  when  so  doing,  which 
would  seem  at  first  sight  to  be  a  foolish  thing  to  do,  in  that  it  reveals  their 
whereabouts  to  their  victims  and  also  adds  an  incentive  to  flight.  But  it 
must  be  borne  in  mind  that  dogs  are  descended  from  wolves,  which 

naturally  hunt  in  packs  and 
.^  do  not  stalk  their  prey.     The 

baying  of  the  hound  is  a  most 
common  example  of  the  habit, 
and  as  we  listen  we  can  under- 
stand how,  by  following  this 
sound,  the  pack  is  kept  to- 
gether. Almost  all  breeds  of 
dogs  have  an  acute  sense  of 
hearing.  When  a  dog  bays 
at  the  moon  or  howls  when  he 
hears  music,  it  is  simply  a 
reversion  to  the  wild  habifc  o^ 
howling  to  call  together  the 
pack  or  in  answer  "to  the 
music  of  the  pack."  It  is 
interesting  that  our  music, 
which  is  the  flower  of  our 
civilization,  should  awaken 
the  sleeping  ancestral  traits 
in  the  canine  breast.  But 
perhaps  that,  too,  is  why  we 
respond  to  music,  because  it  awakens  in  us  the  strong,  primitive 
emotions,  and  for  the  time,  enables  us  to  free  ourselves  from  all  conven- 
tional shackles  and  trammels. 


Mammal  Study 


Fox  terrier  and  pups. 



Leading  thought — The  dog  is  a  domesticated  descendent  of  wolf-like 
animals  and  has  retained  certain  of  the  habits  and  characteristics  of  his 

Method — For  the  observation  lesson  it  would  be  well  to  have  at  hand,  a 
well-disposed  dog  which  would  not  object  to  being  handled;  a  collie  or  a 
hound  would  be  preferable.  Many  of  the  questions  should  be  given  to 
the  pupils  to  answer  from  observations  at  home,  and  the  lesson  should  be 
built  upon  the  experience  of  the  pupils  with  dogs. 

Observations — i.  Why  are  the  legs  of  the  dog  long  and  strong  in  pro- 
portion to  the  body  compared  with  those  of  the  cat? 

2.  Compare  the  feet  of  the  cat  with  those  of  the  dog  and  note  which 
has  the  heavier  pads.     Why  is  this  of  use  to  each? 

3.  Which  has  the  stronger  and  heavier  claws,  the  dog  or  the  cat? 
Can  the  dog  retract  his  claws  so  that  they  are  not  visible,  as  does  the  cat? 
Of  what  use  is  this  arrangement  to  the  dog?  Are  the  front  feet  just  like 
the  hind  feet?     How  many  toe  impressions  show  in  the  track  of  the  dog? 

4.  What  is  the  general. characteristic  of  the  body  of  the  dog?  Is  it 
soft  like  that  of  the  cat,  or  lean  and  muscular?  What  is  the  difference 
between  the  hair  covering  of  the  dog  and  cat?  What  is  the  attitude  of 
the  dog  when  running  fast  ?     How  many  kinds  of  gaits  has  he  ? 

5.  In  general,  how  do  the  eyes  of  the  dog  differ  from  those  of  the 
cat?  Does  he  rely  as  much  upon  his  eyes  for  finding  his  prey  as  does  the 
cat?     Can  a  dog  see  in  the  dark?     What  is  the  color  of  the  dog's  eyes? 

6.  Study  the  ear  of  the  dog;  is  it  covered?  Isthisouter  ear  movable, 
is  it  a  flap,  or  is  it  cornucopia  shaped?  How  is  this  flap  used  when  the 
dog  is  listening?     Roll  a  sheet  of  paper  into  a  flaring  tube  and  place  the 


Handbook  of  Naiure-Stttdy 

small  end  upon  your  own  ear,  and  note  if  it  helps  you  to  hear  better  the 
sounds  in  the  direction  toward  which  the  tube  opens?  Note  how  the 
hound  lifts  his  long  earlaps,  so  as  to  make  a  tube  for  conveying  sounds  to 
his  inner  ear.     Do  you  think  that  dogs  can  hear  well  ? 

7.  What  is  the 
position  of  the  nose  in 
the  dog's  face?  Of 
what  use  is  this? 
Describe  the  nostrils; 
are  they  placed  on 
the  foremost  point  of 
the  face?  What  is 
the  condition  of  the 
skin  that  surrounds 
them?  How  does  this 
condition  of  the  nose 
aid  the  dog?  What 
other  animals  have  it  ? 
Does  the  dog  recog- 
nize his  friends  or 
become  acquainted 
with  strahigers  by 
means  of  his  sight  or 
of  his  powers  of  smell- 

"Klondike  Jack". 

The  dog  that  pulled  four  hundred  fifty  pounds  five  hundred 

miles  through  the  White  Horse  Pass  in  the  winter 

of  the  first  gold  excitement. 

8.  How  long  after 
a  fox  or  rabbit  has 
passed  can  a  hound  follow  the  track?  Does  he  follow  it  by  sight  or  by 
smell?  What  are  the  conditions  most  favorable  for  retaining  the  scent? 
The  most  unfavorable  ?  How  long  will  a  hound  follow  a  fox  trail  without 
stopping  for  rest  or  food?  Do  you  think  the  dog  is  your  superior  in 
ability  to  smell? 

9.  How  does  a  dog  seize  and  kill  his  prey?  How  does  he  use  his  feet 
and  claws  when  fighting?  What  are  his  especially  strong  weapons? 
Describe  a  dog's  teeth  and  explain  the  reason  for  the  bare  spaces  on  the 
jaw  next  to  the  tushes.     Does  the    dog   use 

his  tushes  when  chewing?  What  teeth  does 
he  use  when  gnawing  a  bone?  Make  a 
diagram  of  the  arrangement  of  the  dog's 

10.  How  by  action,  voice,  and  especially 
by  the  movement  of  the  tail  does  the  dog  ex- 
press the  following  emotions:  Delight, 
friendliness,  affection,  attention,  anger,  fear, 
shame,  excitement?  How  does  he  act  when 
chasing  his  prey?  Why  do  wolves  and  dogs 
bark  when  following  the  trail?  Do  you  think 
of  a  reason  why  dogs  often  howl  at  night  or 
when  listening  to  music?  What  should  we 
feed  to  our  pet  dogs?  What  should  we  do  to 
make  them  comfortable  in  other  ways? 

11.  Tell  or  write  a  story  of  some  dog  of 

which  you  know  by   experience  or   hearsay. 

In  pleasant  mood. 
A  collie. 

Mammal  Study 


Of  what  use  was  the  dog  to  the  pioneer?     How  are  dogs  used  in  the 
Arctic    regions?     In  Holland? 

12.  How  many  breeds  of  dogs  do  you  know?  Describe  charac- 
ters of  such  as  follows:  The  length  of  the  legs  as  compared  with  the 
body;  the  general  shape  of  the  body,  head,  ears,  nose;  color  and  character 
of  hair  on  head,  body  and  tail. 

13.  Find  if  you  can  the  reasons  which  have  led  to  the  develop- 
ing of  the  following  breeds:  Newfoundland,  St.  Bernard,  mastiffs 
hounds,  collies,  spaniels,  setters,  pointers,  bulldogs,  terriers,  and  pugs. 

Supplementary  reading — "Stories  of  Brave  Dogs"  from  St.  Nicholas, 
the  Century  Co.;  the  following  three  stories  from  Thompson-Seton: 
"Chink"  in  Lives  of  the  Hunted,  "Snap"  in  Animal  Heroes,  "Wully"  in 
Wild  Animals  I  Have  Known;  Bob,  Son  of  Battle;  Mack,  His  Book,  by 
Florence  Leigh;  Rab  and  his  Friends;  The  Dog  of  Flanders;  "Red  Dog" 
in  Kipling's  Jungle  Stories;  i\.nimals  of  the  World,  Knight  and  Jenks, 
p.  80;    Life  of  Animals,  Ingersoll,  p.  187. 

Fox  hunting,  in  the  Genesee  Vallev.  N.   V. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

An  aristocrat. 


Teacher's  Story 

F  all  people,  the  writer  should  regard  the  cat  sym- 
pathetically, for  when  she  was  a  baby  of  five 
months  she  was  adopted  by  a  cat.  My  self- 
elected  foster-mother  was  Jenny,  a  handsome  black 
and  white  cat,  which  at  that  time  lost  her  first 
litter  of  kittens,  through  the  attack  of  a  savage  cat 
from  the  woods.  She  was  as  Rachel  crying  for  her 
children,  when  she  seemed  suddenly  to  compre- 
hend that  I,  although  larger  than  she,  was  an 
infant.  She  haunted  my  cradle,  trying  to  give 
me  milk  from  her  own  breasts;  and  later  she 
brought  half-killed  mice  and  placed  them  enticingly  in  my  cradle,  coaxing 
me  to  play  with  them,  a  performance  which  pleased  me  much  more  than 
it  did  my  real  mother.  Jenny  always  came  to  comfort  me  when  I  cried, 
rubbing  against  me,  purring  loudly,  and  licking  me  with  her  tongue  in  a 
way  to  drive  mad  the  modern  mother,  wise  as  to  the  sources  of  children's 
internal  parasites.  This  maternal  attitude  toward  me  lasted  as  long  as 
Jenny  lived,  which  was  until  I  was  nine  years  old.  Never  during  those 
years  did  I  lift  my  voice  in  wailing,  that  she  did  not  come  to  comfort 
me;  and  even  to-day  I  can  remember  how  great  that  comfort  was, 
especially  when  my  naughtiness  was  the  cause  of  my  weeping,  and  when^ 
therefore,  I  felt  that  the  whole  world,  except  Jenny,  was  against  me. 

Mammal  Study  269 

Jenny  was  a  cat  of  remarkable  intelligence  and  was  very  obedient  and 
useful.  Coming  down  the  kitchen  stairs  one  day,  she  played  with  the 
latch  and  someone  hearing  her,  opened  the  door.  She  did  this  several 
times,  when  one  day  she  chanced  to  push  down  the  latch,  and  thus  opened 
the  door  herself.  After  that,  she  always  opened  it  herself.  A  little  later, 
she  tried  the  trick  on  other  doors,  and  soon  succeeded  in  opening  all  the 
latched  doors  in  the  house,  by  thrusting  one  front  leg  through  the  handle-, 
and  thus  supporting  her  weight  and  pressing  down  with  the  foot  of  the 
other  on  the  thumb-piece  of  the  latch.  I  remember,  guests  were  greatly 
astonished  to  see  her  coming  thus  swinging  into  the  sitting-room.  Later 
she  tried  the  latches  from  the  other  side,  jumping  up  and  trying  to  lift  the 
hook;  but  now,  her  weight  was  thrown  against  the  wrong  side  of  the  door 
for  opening,  and  she  soon  ceased  this  futile  waste  of  energy;  but  for 
several  years,  she  let  herself  into  all  the  rooms  in  this  clever  maimer,  and 
taught  a  few  of  her  bright  kittens  to  do  the  same. 

A  pet  cat  enjoys  long  conversations  with  favored  members  of  the 
household.  She  will  sit  in  front  of  her  mistress  and  mew,  with  every 
appearance  of  answering  the  questions  addressed  her;  and  since  the  cat 
and  the  mistress  each  knows  her  own  part  of  the  conversation,  it  is  per- 
haps more  typical  of  society  chatter  than  we  might  like  to  confess.  Of 
our  language,  the  cat  learns  to  understand  the  call  to  food,  its  own  name, 
"scat,"  and  "No,  No,"  probably  inferring  the  meaning  of  the  latter  from 
the  tone  of  voice.  On  the  other  hand,  we  understand  when  it  asks  to  go 
out,  and  its  polite  recognition  to  the  one  who  opens  the  door.  I  knew  one 
cat  which  invariably  thanked  us  when  we  let  him  in  as  well  as  out. 
When  the  cat  is  hungry,  it  mews  pleadingly;  when  happy  in  front  of  the 
fire,  it  looks  at  us  sleepily  out  of  half-closed  eyes  and  gives  a  short  mew 
expressive  of  affection  and  content;  or  it  purrs,  a  noise  which  we  do  not 
know  how  to  imitate  and  which  expresses  perfectly  the  happiness  of  inti- 
mate companionship.  When  frightened  the  cat  yowls,  and  when  hurt 
squalls  shrilly ;  when  fighting,  it  is  like  a  savage  warrior  in  that  it  howls  a 
war-song  in  blood-curdling  strains,  punctuated  with  a  spitting  expressive 
of  fear  and  contempt;  and  unfortunately,  its  love  song  is  scarcely  less 
agonizing  to  the  Hstener.  The  cat's  whole  body  enters  into  the  expression 
of  its  emotions.  When  feeling  affectionate  toward  its  mistress,  it  rubs 
against  her  gown,  with  tail  erect,  and  vibrating  with  a  purr  which  seems 
fundamental.  When  angry,  it  lays  its  ears  back  and  lashes  its  tail  back 
and  forth,  the  latter  being  a  sign  of  excitement;  when  frightened,  its  hair 
stands  on  end,  especially  the  hair  of  the  tail,  making  that  expressive 
appendage  twice  its  natural  size;  when  caught  in  disobedience,  the  cat 
lets  its  tail  droop,  and  when  nmning  lifts  it  in 
a  curve. 

While  we  feed  cats  milk  and  scraps  from 
our  own  table,  they  have  never  become  entirely 
civilized  in  their  tastes.  They  always  catch 
mice  and  other  small  animals  and  prove  pesti- 
ferous in  destroying  birds.  Jenny  was  wont 
to  bring  her  quarry,  as  an  offering,  to  the  front 
steps  of  our  home  every  night;  one  morning 
we  found  seven  mice,  a  cotton-tail  rabbit  and 

two   snakes,   which    represented   her    night's         Bones  and  Ugammts 
catch.     The  cat  never  chases  its  prey  like  the  <?/  cat's  claw. 

dog.     It  discovers  the  haunts  of  its  victims,    a  ciaw  up.    b  ciaw  thrust  out. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

and  then  lies  in  ambush,  flattened  out  as  still  as  a  statue  and  all  its  feet 
beneath  it,  ready  to  make  the  spring.  The  weight  of  the  body  is  a  factor 
which  enters  in  the  blow  with  which  the  cat  strikes  down  its  victim,  and 
thus  stuns  and  which  it  later  kills  by  gripping  the  throat  with  the  strong 
tushes.     She  carries  her  victims  as  she  does  her  kittens,  by  the  back. 

The  cat's  legs  are  not  long  compared  with  the  body,  and  it  runs  with  a 
leaping  gallop ;  the  upper  legs  are  armed  with  powerful  muscles.  It  walks 
on  the  padded  toes,  five  on  the  front  feet  and  four  of  the  hind  feet.  The 
cat  needs  its  claws  to  be  sharp  and  hooked,  in  order  to  seize  and  hold  its 
prey,  so  they  are  kept  safely  sheathed  when  not  thus  used.  If  the  claws 
struck  the  earth  during  walking,  as  do  the  dog's,  they  would  soon  become 
dulled.  When  sharpening  its  claws  it  reaches  high  up  against  a  tree  or 
post,  and  strikes  them  into  the  wood  with  a  downward  scratch;  this  act 
is  probably  more  for  exercising  the  muscles  which  control  the  claws  than 
for  sharpening  them. 

The  cat's  track  is  in  a  single  line  as  if  it  had  only  two  feet,  one  set 
directly  ahead  of  the  other.  It  accomplishes  this  by  setting  its  hind  feet 
exactly  in  the  tracks  made  by  the  front  feet.  The  cat  can  easily  leap 
upward,  landing  on  a  window-sill  five  feet  from  the  ground.  The  jump  is 
made  with  the  hind  legs  and  the  alighting  is  done  silently  on  the  front 

Cats'  eyes  are  fitted  for  seeing  in  the  dark;  in  the  daytime  the  pupil  is 
simply  a  narrow,  up  and  down  slit;  under  excitement,  and  at  night,  the 
pupil  covers  almost  the  entire  eye.  At  the  back  of  the  eye  is  a  reflecting 
surface,  which  catches  such  dim  light  as  there  is,  and  by  reflecting  it 
enables  the  cat  to  use  it  twice.  It  is  this  reflected  light,  which  gives  the 
peculiar  green  glare  to  the  eyes  of  all  the  cats  when  seen  in  the  dark. 
Some  night-flying  moths  have  a  like  arrangement  for  utilizing  the  light, 

and  their  eyes  glow  like  living  coals.  Of 
course,  since  the  cat  is  a  night  hunter,  this 
power  of  multiplying  the  rays  of  light  is  of 
great  use.  The  iris  of  the  eye  is  usually 
yellow,  but  in  kittens  it  may  be  blue  or  green. 
The  cat's  teeth  are  pecularily  fitted  for 
its  needs.  The  six  doll-like  incisors  of  the 
upper  and  lower  jaw  are  merely  for  scraping 
meat  from  bones.  The  two  great  tushes, 
or  canines,  on  each  jaw,  with  a  bare  place 
behind  so  that  they  pass  each  other  freely,  are 
sharp  and  hooked,  and  are  for  seizing  and 
carrying  prey.  The  cat  is  able  to  open  its 
mouth  as  wide  as  a  right  angle,  in  order  to 
better  hold  and  carry  prey.  The  back  teeth, 
or  molars,  are  four  on  each  side  in  the  upper 
jaw  and  three,  below.  They  are  sharp-edged 
wedges  made  for  cutting  meat  fine  enough,  so 
that  it  may  be  swallowed. 

The  tongue  is  covered  with  sharp  papillae 

directed    backwards,    also    used    for    rasping 

juices  from  meat.     The  cat's  nose  is  moist, 

''Folks  are  so  tiresome."         and  her  sense  of  smell  very  keen,  as  is  also  her 

sense  of  hearing.     The  ears  rise   like  two    hollow  half-cones  on  either 

Mammal  Study 


side  of  the  head  and  are  filled  with  sensitive  hairs;  they  ordinarily  open 
forward,  but  are  capable  of  movement.  The  cat's  whiskers  consist  of 
from  twenty-five  to  thirty  long  hairs  set  in  four  lines,  above  and  at  the 
sides  of  the  mouth;  they  are  connected  with  sensitive  nerves  and  are 
therefore  true  feelers.  The  cat's  fur  is  very  fine  and  thick,  and  is  also 
sensitive;  as  can  readily  be  proved,  by  trying  to  stroke  it  the  wrong 
way.  While  the  wild  cats  have  gray  or  tawny  fur,  variously  mottled 
or  shaded,  the  more  striking  colors  we  see  in  the  domestic  cats  are  the 
result  of  man's  breeding. 

Cats  are  very  cleanly  in  their  habits.  Puss  always  washes  her  face 
directly  after  eating,  using  one  paw  for  a  wash-cloth  and  licking  it  clean 
after  she  rubs  her  face.  She  cleans  her  fur  with  her  rough  tongue  and 
also  by  biting;  and  she  promptly  buries  objectionable  matter.  The 
mother  cat  is  very  attentive 
to  the  cleanliness  of  her  kit- 
tens, licking  them  clean  from 
nose  tip  to  tail  tip.  The  ways 
of  the  mother  cat  with  her 
kittens  do  much  to  sustain 
the  assertions  of  Mr.  Seton 
and  Mr.  Long  that  young 
animals  are  trained  and  edu- 
cated by  their  parents.  The 
cat  brings  half-dazed  mice  to 
her  kittens,  that  they  may 
learn  to  follow  and  catch  them 
with  their  own  little  claws. 
When  she  punishes  them,  she 
cuffs  the  ears  by  holding  one 
side  of  the  kitten's  head  firm 
with  the  claws  of  one  foot, 
while  she  lays  on  the  blows 
with  the  other.  She  carries  her 
kittens  by  the  nape  of  the  neck, 
never  hurting  them.  She  takes  them  into  the  field  when  they  are  old 
enough,  and  shows  them  the  haunts  of  mice,  and  does  many  things  for 
their  education  and  welfare.  The  kittens  meantime  train  themselves  to 
agility  and  dexterity,  by  playing  rough  and  tumble  with  each  other,  and 
by  chasing  every  small  moving  object,  even  to  their  own  tails. 

The  cat  loves  warmth  and  finds  her  place  beneath  the  stove  or  at  the 
hearthside.  She  likes  some  people,  and  dislikes  others,  for  no  reason  we 
can  detect.  She  can  be  educated  to  be  friendly  with  dogs  and  with 
birds.  In  feeding  her,  we  should  give  her  plenty  of  sweet  milk,  some 
cooked  meat  and  fish  of  which  she  is  very  fond;  and  we  should  keep  a 
bundle  of  catnip  to  make  her  happy,  for  even  the  larger  cats  of  the  wilder- 
ness seem  to  have  a  passionate  liking  for  this  herb.  The  cat  laps  milk 
with  her  rough  tongue,  and  when  eating  meat,  she  turns  the  head  this 
way  and  that,  to  cut  the  tough  muscle  with  her  back  teeth. 




Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Cats  Should  be  Traixed  to  Leave  Birds  Alone 

Every  owner  of  a  cat  owes  it  to  the  world  to  train  puss  to  leave  birds 
alone.  If  this  training  is  begun  during  kittenhood,  by  switching  the 
culprit  every  time  it  even  looks  at  a  bird,  it  will  soon  learn  to  leave  them 

severely  alone.  I  have  tried 
this  many  times,  and  I  know 
it  is  efficacious,  if  the  cat  is 
intelligent.  We  have  never 
had  a  cat  whose  early  training 
we  controlled,  that  could  ever 
be  induced  to  even  w^atch 
birds.  If  a  cat  is  not  thus 
trained  as  a  kitten,  it  is  likely 
to  be  always  treacherous  in 
this  respect.  But  in  case  any 
one  has  a  valuable  cat  which 
is  given  to  catching  birds,  I 
^,  ■        ,  ,       ,  .      ,        ,     r  ■      ,,  strongly  advise  the  following 

Tk:s  cat  has  bca:^u-ar^^^^^^  treatment    which    has    been 

^^  ^'  proved  practicable  by  a  friend 

of  mine.  When  a  cat  has  made  the  catch,  take  the  bird  away  and 
sprinkle  it  with  red  pepper,  and  then  give  it  back.  One  stich  treatment 
as  this  resulted  in  making  one  cat,  which  was  an  inveterate  bird 
hunter,  run  and  hide  every  time  he  saw  a  bird  thereafter.  Any  persons 
taking  cats  with  them  to  their  summer  homes,  and  abandoning  them 
there  to  prey  upon  the  birds  of  the  vicinity,  and  to  become  poor,  half- 
starved,  wild  creatures,  ought  to  be  arrested  and  fined.  It  is  not 
only  cruelty  to  the  cats,  but  it  is  positive  injury  and  damage  to  the  com- 
munity, because  of  the  slaughter  of  beneficial  birds  which  it  entails. 


The  Cat 

Leading  thought — The  cat  was  made  a  domestic  animal  before  man 
wrote  histories.  It  gets  prey  by  springing  from  ambush  and  is  fitted  by 
form  of  body  and  teeth  to  do  this.  It  naturally  hunts  at  night  and  has 
eyes  fitted  to  see  in  the  dark. 

Method — This  lesson  may  be  used  in  primary  grades  by  asking  a  few 
questions  at  a  time  and  allowing  the  children  to  make  their  observations  on 
their  own  kittens  at  home,  or  a  kitten  may  be  brought  to  school  for  this 
purpose.  The  upper  grade  work  consists  of  reading  and  retelling  or  writ- 
ing exciting  stories  of  the  great,  wild,  savage  cats,  like  the  tiger,  lion, 
leopard,  lynx  and  panther. 

Observations — i.  How  much  of  Pussy's  language  do  you  understand? 
What  does  she  say  when  she  wishes  you  to  open  the  door  for  her?  How 
does  she  ask  for  something  to  eat?  What  does  she  say  when  she  feels  like 
conversing  with  you?  How  does  she  cry  when  hurt?  When  frightened? 
What  noise  does  she  make  when  fighting?  AVhen  calling  other  cats? 
What  are  her  feelings  when  she  purrs?  When  she  spits?  How  many 
things  which  you  say  does  she  understand? 

Mammal  Study 


2.  How  else  than  by  voice  does  she  express  affection,  pleasure  and 
anger?  When  she  carries  her  tail  straight  up  in  the  air  is  she  in  a  jjleasant 
mood?  When  her  tail  "bristles  up"  how  does  she  feel?  What  is  it 
a  sign  of,  when  she  lashes  her  tail  back  and  forth? 

3.  What  do  you  feed  to  cats?  What  do  they  catch  for  themselves? 
What  do  the  cats  that  are  wild  live  upon?  How  does  the  cat  help  us? 
How  does  she  injure  us? 

4.  How  does  a  cat  catch  her  prey?  Does  she  track  mice  by  the  scent? 
Does  she  catch  them  by  running  after  them  as  a  dog  does?  Describe  how 
she  lies  in  ambush.  How  does  she  hold  the  mouse  as  she  pounces  upon  it? 
How  does  she  carry  it  home  to  her  kittens? 

5.  Study  the  cat's  paws  to  see  how  she  holds  her  prey.  Where  are 
the  sharp  claws?  Are  they  always  in  sight  like  a  dog's?  Does  she  touch 
them  to  the  ground  when  she  walks?     Which  walks  the  more  silently, 

Amicable  advances. 

a  dog  or  a  cat?  Why?  Describe  the  cat's  foot,  including  the  toe-pads. 
Are  there  as  many  toes  on  the  hind  feet  as  on  the  front  feet?  What  kind 
of  a  track  does  the  cat  make  in  the  snow?  How  does  she  set  her  feet  to 
make  such  a  track  ?  How  does  she  sharpen  her  claws  ?  How  does  she  use 
her  claws  for  climbing?  How  far  have  you  ever  seen  a  cat  jump?  Does 
she  use  her  front  or  her  hind  feet  in  making  the  jump  ?  On  which  feet  does 
she  alight?     Does  she  make  much  noise  when  she  alights? 

6.  What  is  there  peculiar  about  a  cat's  eyes?  What  is  their  color? 
What  is  the  color  of  kittens'  eyes?  What  is  the  shape  of  the  pupil  in  day- 
Hght?  In  the  dark?  Describe  the  inner  lid  which  comes  from  the  comer 
of  the  eye. 

7.  How  many  teeth  has  Puss?  What  is  the  use  of  the  long  tushes? 
Why  is  there  a  bare  space  behind  these?  What  does  she  use  her  little 
front  teeth  for?  Does  she  use  her  back  teeth  for  chewing  or  for  cutting 

8.  How  many  whiskers  has  she?  How  long  are  they?  What  is 
their  use  ?     Do  you  think  that  puss  has  a  keen  sense  of  smell  ?     Why  do 


Haitdbook  of  N ature-Study 

you  think  so?  Do  you  think  she  has  a  keen  sense  of  hearing?  How  do 
the  shape  and  position  of  the  ears  help  in  Hstening?  In  what  position  are 
the  ears  when  puss  is  angry? 

9.  How  many  colors  do  you  find  in  our  domestic  cats.  What  is  the 
color  of  wild  cats  ?  Why  would  it  not  be  beneficial  to  the  wild-cat  to  have 
as  striking  colors  as  our  tame  cats?  Compare  the  fur  of  the  cat  with  the 
hair  of  the  dog.  How  do  they  differ?  If  a  cat  chased  her  prey  like  the 
dog  do  you  think  her  fur  would  be  a  too  warm  covering? 

10.  Describe  how  the  cat  washes  her  face.  How  does  she  clean  her 
fur?  How  does  her  rough  tongue  help  in  this?  How  does  the  mother 
cat  wash  her  kittens? 

11.  How  does  a  little  kitten  look  when  a  day  or  two  old?  How  long 
before  its  eyes  open ?  How  does  the  cat  carry  her  kittens?  How  does  a 
kitten  act  when  it  is  being  carried  ?  How  does  the  mother  cat  punish  her 
kittens  ?  How  does  she  teach  them  to  catch  mice  ?  How  do  kittens  play  ? 
How  does  the  exercise  they  get  in  playing  fit  them  to  become  hunters? 

1 2 .  How  should  cats  be  trained  not  to  touch  birds  ?  When  must  this 
training  begin  ?  Why  should  a  person  be  punished  for  injury  to  the  public 
who  takes  cats  to  summer  cottages  and  leaves  them  there  to  run  wild? 

13.  Where  in  the  room  does  puss  best  like  to  lie?  How  does  she  sun 
herself?  What  herb  does  she  like  best?  Does  she  like  some  people  and 
not  others?  What  strange  companions  have  you  known  a  cat  to  have? 
What  is  the  cat's  chief  enemy?  How  should  we  care  for  and  make  her 

14.  Write  or  tell  stories  on  the  following  subjects:  (i)  The  things 
which  my  pet  cat  does;  (2)  The  AVild  Cat;  (3)  The  Lion;  (4)  The  Tiger; 
(5)  The  Leopard;  (6)  The  Panther  and  the  Mountain  Lion;  (7)  The  Lynx; 
(8)  The  History  of  Domestic  Cats;  (9)  The  Different  Races  of  Cats, 
describing  the  Manx,  the  Persian  and  the  Angora  Cats. 

Supplementary  reading— The  Life  of  Animals,  Ingersoll;  American 
Animals,  Stone  and  Cram;  Our  Domestic  Animals,  Burkett;  The  Fireside 
Sphinx,  Repplier;  Concerning  Cats,  Winslow;  The  following  animal 
stories  from  St.  Nicholas  Magazine :  Cat  Stories,  Lion  and  Tiger  Stories, 
Panther  Stories. 

Photo  by  Verne  Morton 

Mammal  Study 


Saaiien  goats  in  Switzerland. 

Peer,  Twenty-first  Annual  Report  Bureau  of  Animal  Industry, 
U.  S.  Department  of  Agriculture. 


Teacher's  Story 

Little  do  we  in  America  realize  the  close  companionship  that  has  ex- 
isted in  older  countries,  from  time  immemorial,  between  goats  and  people. 
This  association  began  when  man  was  a  nomad,  and  took  with  him  in  his 
wanderings,  his  flocks,  of  which  goats  formed  the  larger  part.  He  then 
drank  their  milk,  ate  their  flesh,  wove  their  hair  into  raiment,  or  made 
cloth  of  their  pelts,  and  used  their  skins  for  water  bags.  Among  peoples 
of  the  East  all  these  uses  continue  to  the  present  day.  In  the  streets  of 
Cairo,  old  Arabs  may  be  seen  with  goat  skins  filled  with  water  upon  their 
backs;  and  in  any  city  of  Western  Asia  or  Southern  Europe,  flocks  of 
goats  are  driven  along  the  streets  to  be  milked  in  sight  of  the  consumer. 

In  order  to  understand  the  goat's  peculiarities  of  form  and  habit,  we 
should  consider  it  as  a  wild  animal,  living  upon  the  mountain  heights  amid 
rocks  and  snow  and  scant  vegetation.  It  is  marvelously  sure-footed  and 
when  on  its  native  mountains,  it  can  climb  the  sharpest  crags  and  leap 
chasms.  This  peculiarity  has  been  seized  upon  by  showmen  who  often 
exhibit  goats  which  walk  on  the  tight  rope  with  ease,  and  even  turn 
themselves  upon  it  without  falling.  The  instinct  for  climbing  still 
lingers  in  the  domestic  breeds,  and  in  the  country  the  goat  may  be  seen  on 
top  of  stone  piles  or  other  objects,  while  in  city  suburbs,  its  form  may  be 
discerned  on  the  roofs  of  shanties  and  stables. 

It  is  a  common  saying  that  a  goat  will  eat  an\'thing,  and  much  sport 
is  made  of  this  peculiarity.  This  fact  has  more  meaning  for  us  Avhen  we 
realize  that  wild  goats  live  in  high  altitudes,  where  there  is  little  plant 
life,  and  are  therefore,  obHged  to  find  sustenance  on  lichens,  moss  and  such 
scant  vegetation  as  thev  can  find. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

The  goat  is  closely  allied  to  the  sheep,  differing  from  it  in  only  a  few 
particulars;  its  horns  rise  from  the  forehead  curving  over  backward  and 
do  not  form  a  spiral  like  those  of  the  ram;  its  covering  is  usually  of  hair, 
and  the  male  has  a  beard  from  which  we  get  the  name  goatee;  the  goat 
has  no  gland  between  the  toes,  and  it  does  have  a  rank  and  disagreeable 
odor.  In  a  wild  state,  it  usually  lives  a  Httle  higher  up  the  mountains 
than  do  the  sheep,  and  it  is  a  far  more  intelligent  animal.  Mary  Austin 
says :  "Goats  lead  naturally  by  reason  of  a  quicker  instinct,  forage  more 
freely  and  can  find  water  on  their  own  account,  and  give  voice  in  case  of 
alarm.  Goat  leaders  exhibit  jealousy  of  their  rights  to  be  first  over  the 
stepping-stones  or  to  walk  the  teetering  log  bridges  at  the  roaring  creeks." 
On  the  great  plains,  it  is  a  common  usage  to  place  a  few  goats  in  a  flock  of 
sheep,  because  of  the  greater  sagacity  of  these  animals  as  leaders,  and  also 
as  defenders  in  case  of  attack. 

Goats'  teeth  are  arranged  for  cropping  herbage  and  especially  for 

browsing.  There  are  six  molar  teeth  on 
each  side  of  each  jaw;  there  are  eight 
lower  incisors  and  none  above.  The 
goat's  sense  of  smell  is  very  acute;  the 
ears  are  movable  and  the  sense  of  hear- 

Zaraihi  milch  goats  of  Egypt. 

Thompson       Twenty-first  Annual  Report  Bureau  of  Animal  Industry, 

U.  S.  Department  of  Agriculture. 

ingis  keen;  the  eyes  are  full  and  very  intelligent;  the  horns  are  some- 
what flattened  and  angular  and  often  knobbed  somewhat  in  front,  and 
curve  backward  above  the  neck;  they  are,  however,  very  efficient  as 
weapons  of  defence.  The  legs  are  strong,  though  not  large,  and  are  well 
fitted  for  leaping  and  running.  The  feet  have  two  hoofs,  that  is,  the 
animal  walks  upon  two  toe-nails.     There  are  two  smaller  toes  behind 

Mammal  Study 


and  above  the  hoofs.  The  goat  can  run  with  great  rapidity.  The  tail 
of  the  goat  is  short  Hke  that  of  the  deer,  and  does  not  need  to  be  ampu- 
tated hke  that  of  the  sheep.  Although  the  normal  covering  of  the  goat  is 
hair,  there  are  some  species  which  have  a  more  or  less  woolly  coat. 
When  angry  the  goat  shakes  its  head,  and  defends  itself  by  butting 
with  the  head,  also  by  striking  with  the  horns,  which  are  very  sharp. 
Goats  are  very  tractable  and  make  affectionate  pets  when  treated  with 
kindness;  they  display  far  more  affection  for  their  owner  than  do  sheep. 
Our  famous  Rocky  Mountain  goat,  although  it  belongs  rather  to  the 
antelope  family,  is  a  large  animal,  and  is  the  special  prize  of  the  hunter; 
however,  it  still  holds  its  own  in  the  high  mountains  of  the  Rocky  and 

JMilch  goats  in   Malta. 

Thompson.     Twenty-first  Annual  Report  Bureau  of  Animal  Industry, 
Department  of  Agriculture. 

Cascade  Ranges.  Both  sexes  have  slender  black  horns,  white  hair,  and 
black  feet,  eyes  and  nose.  Owen  Wister  says  of  this  animal:  "He  is 
white,  all  white,  and  shaggy,  and  twice  as  large  as  any  goat  you  ever  saw. 
His  white  hair  hangs  long  all  over  him  like  a  Spitz  dog's  or  an  Angora 
cat's;  and  against  its  shaggy  white  mass  the  blackness  of  his  hoofs  and 
horns,  and  nose  looks  particularly  black.  His  legs  are  thick,  his  neck  is 
thick,  everything  about  him  is  thick,  save  only  his  thin  black  horns. 
They're  generally  about  six  (often  more  than  nine)  inches  long,  they 
spread  very  slightly,  and  they  curve  slightly  backward.  At  their  base 
they  are  a  little  rough,  but  as  they  rise  they  become  cylindrically  smooth 
and  taper  to  an  ugly  point.  His  hoofs  are  heavy,  broad  and  blunt.  The 
female  is  lighter  than  the  male,  and  with  horns  more  slender,  a  trifle. 
And  (to  return  to  the  question  of  diet)  we  visited  the  pasture  where  the 
herd  (of  thirty-five)  had  been,  and  found  no  signs  of  grass  growing  or  grass 
eaten;  there  was  no  grass  on  that  mountain.     The  only  edible  substance 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

was  a  moss,  tufted,  stiff  and  dry  to  the  touch.  I  also  learned  that  the  goat 
is  safe  from  predatory  animals.  With  his  impenetrable  hide  and  his 
disemboweling  horns  he  is  left  by  the  wolves  and  mountain  lions  respect- 
fully alone."  (See  American  Animals,  p.  57 ;  Camp  Fires  of  a  Naturalist, 
chapters  VIII  and  XIII). 

Milch  Goats — Many  breeds  of  these  have  been  developed,  and  the 
highest  type  is,  perhaps,  found  in  Switzerland.  The  Swiss  farmers  have 
found  the  goat  particularly  adapted  to  their  high  mountains  and  have  used 
it  extensively;  thus,  goats  developed  in  the  Saane  and  Toggenburg  val- 
leys have  a  world-wide  reputation.  Above  these  valleys  the  high  moun- 
tains are  covered  with  perpetual  snow,  and  winter  sets  in  about  Novem- 
ber I  St,  lasting  until  the  last  of  May.  The  goats  are  kept  with  the  cows 
in  bams  and  fed  upon  hay;  but  as  soon  as  the  snow  is  gone  from  the  val- 
leys and  the  lower  foot-hills,  the  cattle  and  goats  are  sent  with  the  herders 
and  boy  assistants,  to  the  grazing  grounds.  A  bell  is  put  upon  the  cow 
that  leads  the  herd  so  as  to  keep  it  together  and  the  boys,  in  their  gay 

peasant  dresses,  are  as  happy  as 
the  playful  calves  and  goats  to  get 
out  in  the  spring  sunshine.  The 
herds  follow  the  receding  snows 
up  the  mountains  until  about  mid- 
summer, when  they  reach  the 
high  places  of  scanty  vegetation; 
then  they  start  on  the  downward 
journey,  returning  to  the  home 
and  stables  about  November  ist. 
The  milk  from  goats  is  mixed  with 
that  from  cows  to  make  cheese, 
and  this  cheese  has  a  wide  reputa- 
tion; some  of  the  varieties  are: 
Roquefort,  Schweitzer  and  Alten- 
burger.  Although  the  cheese  is 
excellent,  the  butter  made  from 
goat's  milk  is  quite  inferior  to 
that  made  from  the  cow's.  The 
milk,  when  the  animals  are  well 
taken  care  of,  is  exceedingly 
nourishing;  it  is  thought  to  be  the 
best  milk  in  the  world  for  children. 
Usually,  the  trouble  with  goat's 
milk  is,  that  the  animals  are  not 
kept  clean  nor  is  care  taken  in 
milking.  Germany  has  produced 
many  distinct  and  excellent  breeds 
of  milch  goats;  the  Island  of 
Malta,  Spain,  England,  Ireland, 
Egypt  and  Nubia  have  each 
developed  noted  breeds.  Of  all 
these,  the  Nubias  give  the  most  milk,  sometimes  yielding  from  four  to  six 
quarts  per  day,  while  an  ordinary  goat  is  considered  fairly  good  if  it  yields 
two  quarts  per  day. 

Pooiia  (India)  goat. 

Thompson.    Twenty-first  Annual  Report  Bureau 

of  Animal  Industry,  U.  S.  Department 

of  Agriculture. 

Mammal  Study 


The  Mohair  Goats — There  are  two  noted  breeds  of  goats  whose  hair  is 
used  extensively  for  weaving  into  fabrics;  one  of  these  is  the  Cashmere 
and  the  other  the  Angora.  The  Cashmere  goat  has  long,  straight,  silky 
hair  for  an  outside  coat  and  has  a  winter  under-coat  of  very  delicate  wool. 
There  are  not  more  than  two  or  three  ounces  of  this  wool  upon  one  goat, 
and  this  is  made  into  the  famous  Cashmere  shawls;  ten  goats  furnish 
barely  enough  of  this  wool  for  one  shawl.  The  Cashmere  goats  are  grown 
most  largely  in  Thibet,  and  the  wool  is  shipped  from  the  high  tableland  to 
the  Valley  of  Cashmere,  and  is  made  into  shawls.  It  requires  the  work  of 
several  people  for  a  year  to  produce  one  of  these  famous  shawls. 

The  Angora  goat  has  a  long,  silky  and  very  curly  fleece.  These  goats 
were  first  discovered  in  Angora,  a  city  of  Asia  Minor  south  of  the  Black 
Sea,  and  some  200  miles  southeast  from  Constantinople.  The  Angora 
goat  is  a  beautiful  and  delicate  animal,  and  furnishes  most  of  the  mohair, 
which  is  made  into  the  cloths  known  as  mohair,  alpaca,  camel's  hair  and 
many  other  fabrics.  The  Angora  goat  has  been  introduced  into  America, 
in  California,  Texas,  Arizona,  and  to  some  extent  in  the  Middle  West.  It 
promises  to  be  a  very  profitable  industry.  (See  Farmers'  Bulletin  No. 
137,  "The  Angora  Goat,"  United  States  Department  of  Agriculture.) 

The  skins  of  goats  are  used  extensively;  morocco,  gloves  and  many 
other  articles  are  made  from  them.  In  the  Orient,  the  skin  of  the  goat  is 
used  as  a  bag  in  which  to  carry  water  and  wine. 

References — American  Animals,  p.  55;  Neighbors  with  Claws  and 
Hoofs,  p.  190;  Familiar  Animals,  pp.  169  and  183;  Camp  Fires  of  a 
Naturalist,  chapters  VIII  and  XIII;    Lives  of  Animals. 

Angora  goat. 

Thompson,  Twenty-first  Annual  Report  Bureau  of  Animal  Industry 
U.  S.  Department  of  Agriculture. 

2  So  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 


The  Goat 

Leading  thought — Goats  are  among  our  most  interesting  domesticated 
animals,  and  their  history  is  closely  interwoven  with  the  history  of  the 
development  of  civilization.  In  Europe,  their  milk  is  made  into  cheese 
that  has  a  world-wide  fame;  and  from  the  hair  of  some  of  the  species, 
beautiful  fabrics  are  woven.  The  goat  is  naturally  an  animal  of  the  high 

MetJiod — A  span  of  goats  harnessed  to  a  cart  is  second  only  to  ponies, 
in  a  child's  estimation;  therefore,  the  beginning  of  this  lesson  may  well  be 
a  span  of  goats  thus  employed.  The  lesson  should  not  be  given  unless  the 
pupils  have  an  opportunity  for  making  direct  observations  on  the  animal's 
appearance  and  habits.  There  shov:ld  be  some  oral  and  written  work  in 
English  done  with  this  lesson.  Following  are  topics  for  such  work: 
"The  Milch  Goat  of  Switzerland,"  "How  Cashmere  Shawls  are  Made," 
"The  Angora  Goat,"    "The  Chamois." 

Observations — i .  Do  you  think  that  goats  like  to  climb  to  high  points  ? 
Are  they  fitted  to  climb  steep,  inaccessible  places?  Can  they  jump  off 
Steep  places  in  safety?  How  does  it  happen  the  goat  is  sure-footed? 
How  do  its  legs  and  feet  compare  with  those  of  the  sheep  ? 

2.  What  does  the  goat  eat?  Where  does  it  find  its  natural  food  on 
mountains?  How  are  the  teeth  arranged  for  cutting  its  food?  Does  a 
goat  chew  its  cud  like  a  cow? 

3.  What  is  the  covering  of  the  goat?  Describe  a  billy-goat's  beard. 
Do  you  suppose  this  is  for  ornament?     For  what  is  goat's  hair  used? 

4.  Do  you  think  the  goat  has  a  keen  sense  of  sight,  of  hearing  and  of 
smell?  Why?  Why  did  it  need  to  be  alert  and  keen  when  it  lived  wild 
upon  the  mountains?  Do  you  think  the  goat  is  intelligent?  Give  in- 
stances of  this? 

5.  Describe  the  honis.  Do  they  differ  from  the  horns  of  the  sheep? 
How  does  a  goat  fight?  Does  he  strike  head  on,  like  the  sheep,  or  side- 
wise?     How  does  he  show  anger? 

6.  What  noises  does  a  goat  make?  Do  you  understand  what  they 

7.  Describe  the  goat,  its  looks  and  actions.  Is  the  goat's  tail  short  at 
first  or  does  it  have  to  be  cut  off  like  the  lamb's  tail?  Where  and  how  is 
goat's  milk  used?  AVhat  kinds  of  cheese  are  made  from  it?  For  what  is 
its  skin  used?     Is  its  flesh  evr  eaten? 

Everyone  knows  the  gayety  of  young  kids,  which  prompts  them  to  cut  the  most 
amusing  and  burlesque  capers.  The  goat  is  naturally  capricious  and  inquisitive,  and 
one  might  say  crazy  for  every  species  of  adventure .  It  positively  delights  in  perilous 
ascensions.  At  times  it  will  rear  a)id  threaten  you  with  its  head  and  horns,  apparently, 
with  the  worst  intentions,  whereas  it  is  usually  an  invitation  to  play.  The  bucks, 
however,  fight  violently  with  each  other;  they  seem,  to  have  no  consciousness  of  the  most 
terrible  blows.      The  ewes  themselves  arc  Jiot  exempt  from  this  vice. 

They  knoiu  very  well  whether  or  not  they  have  deserved  punishment.  Drive  them 
out  of  the  garden,  where  they  are  forbidden  to  go,  with  a  whip  and  they  will  flee 
without  uttering  a  sound;  but  strike  them  without  just  cause  and  they  will  send  forth 
lam-entable  cries. 

Charles   William   Burkett  ix   "Our  Domes'Iic  Animals." 

Mammal  Sttidy 


A  Sicilian  shepherd. 
Photo  by  J.  H.  Comstock. 


Teacher's  Story 

"The  earliest  important  achievement  oj  ovine  intelligence  is  to  kncoj  whether  its  own 
notion  or  another's  is  most  worth  while,  and  if  the  other's,  which  one?  Individual 
sheep  have  certain  qualities,  instincts,  competences,  but  in  the  man-herded  flocks  these 
are  superseded  by  something  which  I  shall  call  the  flock  mind,  though  I  cannot  say  very 
well  what  it  is,  except  that  it  is  less  than  the  sum  of  all  their  intelligences.  This  is  why 
there  have  never  been  any  notable  changes  in  the  management  of  flocks  since  the  flrst 
herder  girt  himself  with  a  wallet  of  sheep-skin  and  went  out  of  his  cave-dwelling  to  the 
pastures."— "The  Flock,"  by  Mary  Austin. 

Both  sheep  and  goats  are  at  home  on  mountains,  and  sheep  especially, 
thrive  best  in  cool,  dry  locations.  As  wild  animals,  they  were  creatures 
of  the  mountain  crag  and  chasm,  although  they  frequented  more  open 
places  than  the'  mountain  goats,  and  their  wool  was  developed  to  protect 
them  from  the  bitter  cold  of  high  altitudes.  They  naturally  gathered  in 
flocks,  and  sentinels  were  set  to  give  warning  of  the  approach  of  danger; 
as  soon  as  the  signal  came,  they  made  their  escape,  not  in  the  straight 
away  race  like  the  deer,  but  in  following  the  leader  over  rock,  ledge  and 
precipice  to  mountain  fastnesses  where  wolf  nor  bear  could  follow.  Thus, 
the  instinct  of  following  the  leader  blindly,  came  to  be  the  salvation  of  the 
individual  sheep. 

The  teeth  of  the  sheep  are  like  those  of  the  goat,  eight  incisors  below 
and  none  on  the  upper  row,  and  six  grinding  teeth  at  the  back  of  each  side 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

of  each  jaw.  This  arrangement  of  teeth  on  the  small,  delicate,  pointed 
jaws  enables  the  sheep  to  crop  herbage  where  cattle  would  starve ;  it  can 
cut  the  small  grass  off  at  its  roots,  and  for  this  reason,  where  vast  herds  of 
sheep  range,  they  leave  a  desert  behind  them.  This  fact  brought  about  a 
bitter  feud  between  the  cattle  and  sheep  men  in  the  far  West.  In  forests, 
flocks  of  sheep  completely  kill  all  underbrush,  and  now  they  are  not  per- 
mitted to  run  in  government  reserves. 

The  sheep's  legs  are  short  and  delicate  below  the  ankle.  The  upper 
portion  is  greatly  developed  to  help  the  animal  in  leaping,  a  peculiarity  to 
which  we  owe  the  "leg  of  lamb"  as  a  table  delicacy.  The  hoof  is  cloven, 
that  is,  the  sheep  walks  upOi"<  two  toes;  it  has  two  smaller  toes  above  and 
behind  these.     There  is  a  little  gland  between  the  front  toes  which  secretes 

A  sheep  of  pedigree,  Shropshire  ram. 

an  oily  substance,  which  perhaps  serves  in  preventing  the  hoof  from 
becoming  too  dry.  The  ears  are  large  and  are  moved  to  catch  better  the 
direction  of  sound.  The  eyes  are  peculiar;  in  the  sunlight  the  pupil  is  a 
mere  slit,  while  the  iris  is  yellow  or  brownish,  but  in  the  dark,  even  of  the 
stable,  the  pupils  enlarge,  almost  covering  the  eye.  The  ewes  either  lack 
horns  or  have  small  ones,  but  the  horns  of  wild  rams  are  large,  placed  at  the 
side  of  the  head  and  curled  outward  in  a  spiral.  These  honis  are  perhaps 
not  so  much  for  fighting  the  enemy  as  for  rival  rams.  The  ram  can  strike 
a  hard  blow  with  head  and  horns,  coming  at  the  foe  head  on,  while  the 
goat  always  strikes  sidewise.  So  fierce  is  the  blow  of  the  angry  sheep,  that 
an  ancient  instrument  of  war  was  fashioned  like  a  ram's  head  and  used  to 
knock  down  walls,  and  was  called  a  battering  ram.  A  sheep  shows  anger 
by  stamping  the  ground  with  the  front  feet.  The  habit  of  rumination 
enables  the  sheep  to  feed  in  a  flock  and  then  retire  to  some  place  to  rest 
and  chew  the  cud,  a  performance  peculiarly  funny  in  the  sheep. 

Mammal  Study 


Sheep  under  attack  and  danger  are  silent;  ordinarily  they  keep  up  a 
constant,  gentle  bleating  to  keep  each  other  informed  of  their  where- 
abouts; they  also  give  a  peculiar  call  when  water  is  discovered,  and 
another  to  inform  the  flock  that  there  is  a  stranger  in  the  midst;  they  also 
give  a  peculiar  bleat,  when  a  snake  or  other  enemy  which  they  conquer,  is 
observed.  Their  sense  of  smell  is  very  acute.  Mary  Austin  says, 
"Young  lambs  are  principally  legs,  the  connecting  body  being  simply  a 
contrivance  for  converting  milk  into  more  leg,  so  you  understand  how  it  is 
that  they  will  follow  the  flock  in  two  days  and  are  able  to  take  the  trail  in 
a  fortnight,  traveling  four  and  five  miles  a  day,  falling  asleep  on  their  feet 
and  tottering  forward  in  the  way." 

The  older  lambs  have  games  which 
they  play  untiringly,  and  which  fit 
them  to  become  active  members  of  the 
flock;  one,  is  the  regular  game  of 
"Follow  My  Leader,"  each  lamb 
striving  to  push  ahead  and  attain 
the  place  of  leader.  In  playing  this 
the  head  lamb  leads  the  chase  over 
most  difficult  places,  such  as  logs, 
stones  and  across  brooks;  thus  is  a 
training  begun  which  later  in  life  may 
save  the  flock.  The  other  game  is 
peculiar  to  stony  pastures;  a  lamb 
climbs  to  the  top  of  a  boulder  and  its 
comrades  gather  around  and  try  to 
butt  it  off;  the  one  which  succeeds  in 
doing  this,  climbs  the  rock  and  is  "it 

:  Ji 

^  rWi 


r  : 


Mutual  contentment. 

This  game  leads  to  agility  and 
A  lamb's  tail  is  long  and  is  most  expressive  of  lambkin 
bliss,  when  feeding  time  comes;  but,  alas!  it  has  to  be  cut  off  so  that  later 
it  will  not  become  matted  with  burrs  and  filth.  In  southern  Russia  there 
is  a  breed  of  sheep  with  large,  flat,  fat  tails  which  are  esteemed  as 
a  great  table  delicacy.  This  tail  becomes  so  cumbersome  that  wheels 
are  placed  beneath  it,  so  that  it  trundles  along  behind  its  owner. 

We  have  a  noble  species  of  wild  sheep  in  the  Rocky  Mountains 
which  is  Hkely  to  become  extinct  soon.  The  different  breeds  of 
domesticated  sheep  are  supposed  to  have  been  derived  from  different 
wild  species.  Of  the  domesticated  varieties,  we  have  the  ^  Merinos 
which  originated  in  Spain  and  which  give  beautiful,  long,  fine  \yool 
for  our  fabrics;  but  their  flesh  is  not  very  attractive.  The  Merinos 
have  wool  on  their  faces  and  legs  and  have  wrinkled  skins.  The  English 
breeds  of  sheep  have  been  especially  developed  for  mutton,  although 
their  wool  is  valuable.  Some  of  these  like  the  Southdo\vn,  Shro[)shire, 
and  Dorset,  give  a  medium  length  of  wool,  while  the  Cotswold  has 
very  long  wool,  the  ewes  having  long  strings  of  wool  over  their  eyes 
in  the  fashion  of  "bangs." 

The  dog,  as  descended  from  the  wolf,  is  the  ancient  enemy  of  sheep; 
and  even  now  after  hundreds  of  years  of  domestication,  some_  of  our 
dogs  will  revert  to  savagery  and  chase  and  kill  sheep.  This,  in  fact, 
has  been  one  of  the  great  drawbacks  to  sheep  raising  in  the  (Eastern 
United  States.  The  collie,  or  sheep-dog,  has  been  bred  so  many  years  as 
the  special  care-taker  of  sheep,  that  a  beautiful  relationship  has  been 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

established  between  these  dogs  and  their  flocks.  For  instances  of  this, 
read  the  chapter  on  sheep-dogs  in  A  Country  Reader;  "Wully"  in  Wild 
Animals  I  Have  Known,  and  "Bob,  Son  of  Battle." 

The  Sheep 

Leading  tliought — Sheep  live  naturally  in  high  altitudes.  AVhen 
attacked  by  enemies,  they  follow  their  leader  over  difficult  and  dangerous 
mountain  places. 

Method — The  questions  of  this  lesson  should  be  given  to  the  pupils  and 
the  observations  should  be  made  upon  the  sheep  in  pasture  or  stable. 
Much  written  work  may  be  done  in  connection  with  this  lesson.  The 
following  topics  are  suggested  for  themes :  "The  Methods  by  which  Wool 
is  Made  into  Cloth,"  "The  Rocky  Mountain  Sheep,"  "The  Sheep-herders 
of  California  and  their  Flocks,"    "The  True  Story  of  a  Cosset  Lamb." 

Horned  Dorset  ram. 

Observations — i.  What  is  the  chief  character  that  separates  sheep 
from  other  animals?  What  is  the  difference  between  wool  and  hair? 
Why  is  wool  of  special  use  to  sheep  in  their  native  haunts?  Is  there  any 
hair  on  sheep? 

2.  Where  do  the  wild  sheep  live?  What  is  the  climate  in  these 
places?  Does  wool  serve  them  well  on  this  account?  What  sort  of 
pasturage  do  sheep  find  on  mountains?  Could  cows  live  where  sheep 
thrive?  Describe  the  sheep's  teeth  and  how  they  are  arranged  to  enable 
it  to  crop  vegetation  closely?  What  happens  to  the  vegetation  on  the 
range,  when  a  great  flock  of  sheep  passes  over  it?  Why  are  sheep  not 
allowed  in  our  forest  preserves? 

Mammal  Study  285 

3.  What  are  the  chief  enemies  of  sheep  in  the  wilderness?  How  do 
the  sheep  escape  them?  Describe  the  foot  and  leg  of  the  sheep  and 
explain  how  they  help  the  animal  to  escape  its  enemies.  We  say  of  cer- 
tain men  that  they  "follow  hke  a  flock  of  sheep."  Why  do  we  make  this 
comparison  ?  What  has  this  habit  of  following  the  leader  to  do  with  the 
escape  of  sheep  from  wolves  and  bears? 

4.  How  do  sheep  fight?  Do  both  rams  and  ewes  have  horns?  Do 
they  both  fight  ?  How  does  the  sheep  show  anger  ?  Give  your  experience 
with  a  cross  cosset  lamb. 

5.  Do  you  think  that  sheep  can  see  and  hear  well?  What  is  the  posi- 
tion of  the  sheep's  ears  when  it  is  peaceful?  When  there  is  danger? 
How  do  the  sheep's  eyes  differ  from  those  of  the  cow? 

6.  Does  the  sheep  chew  its  cud  like  the  cow?  Describe  the  actionas 
performed  by  the  sheep.  How  is  this  habit  of  cud  chewing  of  use  to  the 
wild    sheep? 

7.  Describe  a  young  lamb.  Why  has  it  such  long  legs?  How  do  es 
it  use  its  tail  to  express  joy?  What  happens  to  this  tail  later?  What 
games  have  you  seen  lambs  play?  Tell  all  the  stories  of  lambs  that  you 

8.  How  much  of  sheep  language  do  you  understand?  What  is  the 
use  to  the  wild  flock  of  the  constant  bleating? 

9.  For  what  purposes  do  we  keep  sheep?  How  many  breeds  of 
sheep  do  you  know?  What  are  the  chief  difterences  between  the  English 
breeds  and  the  Merinos?  Where  and  for  what  purposes  is  the  milk  of 
sheep  used? 

10.  Have  you  ever  seen  a  collie  looking  after  a  herd  of  sheep?  If  so, 
describe  his  actions.  Did  you  ever  know  of  dogs  killing  sheep  ?  At  what 
time  of  day  or  night  was  this  done?  Did  you  ever  know  of  one  dog 
attacking  a  flock  of  sheep  alone.  What  is  there  in  the  dog's  ancestry 
which  makes  two  or  three  dogs,  when  hunting,  give  chase  and  attack 



^^^Hp ' 






Photo  by  Gerrit  Miller 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

.■»«*K  :-> 

A  herd  of  poiiic:^  in  the  Isle  of  Shetland  guarded  by  a  sheep-dog. 


Teacher's  Story 

"There  was  once  a  little  animal  r.o  bigger  than  a  fox. 
And  on  five  toes  he  scrambled  over  Tertiary  rocks. 
They  called  him  Eokippus,  and  tkey  called  him  very  small. 
And  they  thought  him  of  no  value  when  they  thotight  of  him  at  all. 

Said  the  little  Eohippns,  I  am  going  to  be  a  horse! 
And  on  my  middle  finger  nails  to  run  my  earthly  course! 
I  am  going  to  have  a  flowing  tail!     I  am  going  to  have  a  mane! 
And  I  am  going  to  stand  fourteen  hands  high  on  the  Psychozooic  plain!'^ 

— Mrs.   Stetson. 

It  was  some  millions  of  years  ago,  that  Eohippus  lived  out  in  the 
Rocky  Mountain  Range;  its  fore  feet  had  four  toes  and  the  splint  of  the 
fifth ;  the  hind  feet  had  three  toes  and  the  splint  of  the  fourth.  Eohippus 
wasfolloweddown  the  geologic  ages  by  the  Orohippus  and  the  Mesohippus 
and  various  other  hippuses,  which  showed  in  each  age  a  successive  enlarge- 
ment and  specialization  of  the  middle  toe  and  the  minimizing  and  final 
loss  of  the  others.  This  first  little  horse  with  many  toes,  lived  when  the 
earth  was  a  damp,  warm  place  and  when  animals  needed  toes  to  spread 
out  to  prevent  them  from  miring  in  the  mud.  But  as  the  ages  went  on, 
the  earth  grew  colder  and  drier,  and  a  long  leg  ending  in  a  single  hoof,  was 
very  serviceable  in  running  swiftly  over  the  dry  plains;  and  according  to 
the  story  read  in  the  fossils  of  the  rocks,  our  little  American  horses 
migrated  to  South  America;  and  also  trotted  dry-shod  over  to  Asia  in 
the  Mid-pleocine  age,  arriving  there  sufficiently  early  to  become  the  com- 
panion of  prehistoric  man.     In  the  meantime,  horses  were  first  hunted  by 

Mammal  Study 


savage  man  for  theii 
flesh,  but  were  later 
ridden.  At  present, 
there  are  wild  horses 
in  herds  on  the  plains 
of  Tartary;  and  there 
are  still  sporadic  herds 
of  mustangs  on  the 
great  plains  of  our 
own  country,  although 
for  the  most  part,  they 
are  branded  and  be- 
long to  someone,  even 
though  they  live  like 
wild  horses;  these 
American  wild  horses 
are  supposed  to  be 
descendents  of  those 
brought  over  centu- 
ries ago  by  the  Span- 
iards. The  Shetland  Four-toed  horse  of  the  Eocene  period. 
ponies      are       also       wild  ^'^r  Charles  R.  Knight. 

in  the  islands  north  of  Scotland,  and  the  zebras  roam  the  plains  of  Africa 
the  most  truly  wild  of  all.  In  a  state  of  wildness,  there  is  always  a  stal- 
lion at  the  head  of  a  herd  of  mares,  and  he  has  to  win  his  position  and  keep 
it  by  superior  strength  and  prowess.  Fights  between  stallions  are  terrible 
to  witness,  and  often  result  in  the  death  of  one  of  the  participants.  The 
horse  is  well  armed  for  battle;  his  powerful  teeth  can  inflict  deep  wounds 
and  he  can  kick  and  strike  hard  with  the  front  feet ;  still  more  efficient 
is  the  kick  made  with  both  hind  feet  while  the  weight  of  the  body  is  borne 
on  the  front  feet,  and  the  head  of  the  horse  is  turned  so  as  to  aim  well  the 
terrible  blow.  There  are  no  wild  beasts  of  prey  which  will  not  slink  away 
to  avoid  a  herd  of  horses.  After  attaining  their  gro^\1:h  in  the  herd  with 
their  mothers,  the  young  males  are  forced  by  the  leader  to  leave  and  go  off 
by  themselves;  in  turn,  they  must  by  their  own  strength  and  attractions, 
win  their  following  of  mares.  However,  there  are  times  and  places  where 
many  of  these  herds  join,  making  large  bands  wandering  together. 

The  length  of  the  horse's  leg  was  evidently  evolved  to  meet  the  need 
for  flight  before  fierce  and  swift  enemies,  on  the  great  ancient  plains. 
The  one  toe,  with  its  strong,  sharp  hoof,  makes  a  fit  foot  for  such  a  long 
leg,  since  it  strikes  the  ground  with  little  waste  of  energ}'  and  is  sharp 
enough  not  to  slip,  but  it  is  not  a  good  foot  for  marshy  places ;  a  horse  will 
mire  where  a  cow  can  pass  in  safety.  The  development  of  the  middle  toe 
into  a  hoof  results  in  lifting  the  heel  and  wrist  far  up  the  leg,  making  them 
appear  to  be  the  knee  and  elbow,  when  compared  with  the  human  body. 

The  length  of  neck  and  head  are  necessary  in  order  that  an  animal, 
with  such  length  of  leg  as  the  horse,  may  be  able  to  graze.  The  head  of 
the  horse  tells  much  of  its  disposition ;  a  perfect  head  should  be  not  too 
large,  broad  between  the  eyes  and  high  between  the  ears,  while  below  the 
eyes,  it  should  be  narrow.  The  ears,  if  lopped  or  turned  back,  denote  a 
treacherous  disposition.  They  should  point  upward  or  forward;  the  ears 
laid  back  is  always  a  sign  that  the  horse  is  angry;  sensitive,  quick-moving 


Hatuibook  of  Nature-Study 

ears  indicate   a   high-strung,    sensitive  animal.     The  e^^es  are  placed  so 
that  the  horse  can  see  in  front,  at  the  side  and   behind,   the    last   being 

necessary  in  order  to  aim  a  kick.  Hazel 
eyes  are  usually  preferred  to  dark  ones, 
and  they  should  be  bright  and  prominent. 
The  nostrils  should  be  thin-skinned,  wide- 
flaring  and  sensitive;  as  a  wild  animal, 
scent  was  one  of  the  horse's  chief  aids  in 
detecting  the  enemy.  The  lips  should 
not  be  too  thick  and  the  lower  jaw  should 
be  narrow  where  it  joins  the  head. 

The    horse's    teeth    are    peculiar;  there 
are  six  incisors  on  both  jaws;  behind  them 
,,  _  is  a  bare  space  called  the  bar,  of 

w^hich  we  have  made  use  for 
placing  the  bit.  Back  of  the 
bar,  there  are  six  molars  or 
grinders  on  each  side  of  each  jaw.  At  the  age  of  about  three 
years,  canine  teeth  or  tushes  appear  behind  the  incisors;  these  are 
more  noticeable  in  males,  and  never  seem  to  be  of  much  use. 
Thus,  the  horse  has  on  each  jaw,  when  full-grown,  six  incisors,  two 
canines,  and  twelve  molars,  making  forty  teeth  in  all.  The  incisors  are 
prominent  and  enable  the  horse  to  bite  the  grass  more  closely  than  can 
the  cow.  The  horse  when  chewing,  does  not  have  the  sidewise  motion  of 
the  jaws  peculiar  to  the  cow  and  sheep. 

The  horse's  coat  is,  when  rightly  cared  for,  glossy  and  beautiful;  but 
if  the  horse  is  allowed  to  run  out  in  the  pasture  all  winter,  the  coat  becomes 
very  shaggy,  thus  reverting  to  the  condition  of  wild  horses  which  stand  in 
need  of  a  warmer  coat  for  winter;  the  hair  is  shed  every  year.  The 
mane  and  the  forelock  are  useful  in  protecting  the  head  and  neck  from 
flies;  the  tail  is  also  an  efficient  fly-brush.     Although  the  mane  and  tail 

Hoofs  of  horses  from  earliest  ages  to  the  present  time, 
arranged  in  pairs,  hind  and  front. 

Mammal  Study 


have  thus  a  practical  value,  they  add  greatly  to  the  animal's  beauty.  To 
dock  a  horse's  tail  as  an  ornament  is  as  absurd  as  the  sliced  ears  and  welted 
cheeks  of  savages;  and  horses  thus  mutilated  suffer  greatly  from  the 
attacks  of  flies. 

Owing  to  the  fact  that  wild  horses  made  swift  flight  from  enemies,  the 
colts  could  not  be  left  behind  at  the  mercy  of  wolves.  Thus  it  is,  the  colt 
like  the  lamb,  is  equipped  with  long  legs  from  the  first,  and  can  run  very 
rapidly;  as  a  runner,  it  could  not  be  loaded  with  a  big  compound  stomach 
full  of  food,  like  the  calf,  and  therefore,  must  needs  take  its  nourishment 
from  the  mother  often.  The  colt's  legs  are  so  long  that,  in  order  to  graze, 
it  spreads  the  front  legs  wide  apart  in  order  that  it  may  reach  the  grass 
with  its  mouth.  When  the  colt  or  the  horse  lies  down  out  of  doors  and  in 
perfect  freedom,  it  lies  flat  upon  the  side.  In  lying  down,  the  hind  quar- 
ters go  first,  and  in  rising,  the  front  legs  are  thrust  out  first. 

English  draft-hone. 

The  horse  has  several  natural  gaits  and  some  that  are  artificial.  Its 
natural  methods  of  progression  are  the  walk,  the  trot,  the  amble,  the 
gallop.  When  walking  there  are  always  two  or  more  feet  on  the  ground 
and  the  movement  of  the  feet  consists  in  placing  successively  the  right 
hind  foot,  the  right  fore  foot,  left  hind  foot,  left  fore  foot,  right  hind  foot, 
etc.  In  trotting,  each  diagonal  pair  of  legs  is  alternately  lifted  and  thrust 
forward,  the  horse  being  unsupported  twice  during  each  stride.  In 
ambling,  the  feet  are  moved  as  in  the  walk,  only  differing  in  that  a  hind 
foot  or  a  fore  foot  is  lifted  from  the  ground,  before  its  fellow  fore  foot  or 
hind  foot  is  set  down.  In  a  canter,  the  feet  are  landed  on  the  ground  in 
the  same  sequence  as  a  walk  but  much  more  rapidly;  and  in  the  gallop, 
the  spring  is  made  from  the  fore  foot  and  the  landing  is  on  the  diagonal 
hind  foot  and  just  before  landing,  the  body  is  in  the  air  and  the  legs  are  all 
bent  beneath  it. 


Ha)idbook  of  Nature-Study 

An  excellent  horseman  once  said  to  me,  "The  whip  may  teach  a  horse 
to  obey  the  voice,  but  the  voice  and  hand  control  the  well-broken  horse," 
and  this  epitomizes  the  best  horse  training.  He  also  said,  "The  horse 
knows  a  great  deal,  but  he  is  too  nervous  to  make  use  of  his  knowledge 
when  he  needs  it  most.  It  is  the  horse's  feelings  that  I  rely  on.  He 
always  has  the  use  of  his  feelings  and  the  quick  use  of  them."  It  is  a 
well-known  fact  that  those  men  who  whip  and  scold  and  swear  at  their 
horses,  are  meantime  showing  to  the  world  that  they  are  fools  in  this 
particular  business.  Many  of  the  qualities  which  we  do  not  like  in  our 
domesticated  horses,  were  most  excellent  and  useful  when  the  horses  were 
wild,  for  instance,  the  habit  of  shying  was  the  wild  horse's  method  of 
escaping  the  crouching  foe  in  the  grass.     This  habit  as  well  as  many  others 


is  best  controlled  by  the  voice  of  the  driver  instead  of  a  blow  from  the 

Timothy  hay,  or  hay  mixed  with  clover,  form  good,  bulky  food  for  the 
horse,  and  oats  and  com  are  the  best  concentrated  food.  Oats  are  best  for 
driving-horses  and  com  for  the  working  team.  Dusty  hay  should  not  be 
fed  to  a  horse;  but  if  unavoidable,  it  should  always  be  dampened  before 
feeding.  A  horse  should  be  fed  with  regularity,  and  should  not  be  used 
for  a  short  time  after  having  eaten.  If  the  horse  is  not  warm,  it  should 
be  watered  before  feeding,  and  in  the  winter  the  water  should  have  the 
chill  taken  off.  The  frozen  bit  should  be  warmed  before  being  placed  in 
the  horse's  mouth;  if  anyone  doubts  the  wisdom  of  this,  let  him  put  a 
frozen  piece  of  steel  in  his  own  mouth.  The  tight-drawn,  cruel  use  of  the 
over  check-rein  should  not  be  permitted,  although  a  moderate  check  is 
often  needed  and  is  not  cruel.  When  the  horse  is  sweating,  it  should  be 
blanketed  immediately  if  hitched  outside  in  cold  weather;  but  in  the 
bam,  the  blanket  should  not  be  put  on  until  the  perspiration  has  stopped 
steaming.  The  grooming  of  a  horse  is  a  part  of  its  rights,  and  its  legs 
should  receive  more  attention  during  this  process  than  its  body,  a  fact 
not  always  well  understood. 

The  breeds  of  horses  may  always  be  classified  more  or  less  distinctly  as 
follows:     Racers  or  thoroughbreds,    the    saddle-horse,  or  hunter;    the 

Mammal  Study  .  291 

coach-horse;  the  draft -horse  and  the  pony.  For  a  description  of  breeds 
see  dictionaries  or  cyclopedias.  Of  the  draft-horses,  the  Percherons, 
Shires  and  Clydesdales  are  most  common;  of  the  carriage  and  coach- 
horses,  the  English  hackney  and  the  French  and  German  coach-horses  are 
famed  examples.  Of  the  roadster  breeds,  the  American  trotter,  the 
American  saddle-horse  and  the  English  thoroughbred  are  most  famous. 

A  good  coacher. 

The  Horse 

Leading  thought — The  horse  as  a  wild  animal  depended  largely  upon 
its  strength  and  fleetness  to  escape  its  enemies,  and  these  two  qualities 
have  made  it  of  greatest  use  to  man. 

Method — Begin  this  study  of  the  horse  with  the  stories  of  wild  horses. 
"The  Pacing  Mustang"  in  Wild  Animals  I  Have  Known,  is  an  excellent 
story  to  show  the  habits  of  the  herds  of  wild  horses;  Chapter  first  in  A 
Country  Reader  and  the  story  of  horses  in  Life  of  Animals  are  excellent  as 
a  basis  for  study.  Before  beginning  actual  study  of  the  domestic  horses, 
ask  for  oral  or  written  English  exercises  descriptive  of  the  lives  of  the 
wild  horses.  Get  Remington's  pictures  illustrating  the  wild  horses  of 
America.  After  the  interest  has  been  thus  aroused  the  following  observa- 
tions may  be  suggested,  a  few  at  a  time,  to  be  made  incidentally  in  the 
street  or  in  the  stable. 

Observations — i.  Compare  the  length  of  the  legs  of  the  horse  with  its 
height.  Has  any  other  domestic  animal  legs  as  long  in  proportion? 
What  habits  of  the  ancestral  wild  horses  led  to  the  development  of  such 
long  legs?  Do  you  think  the  length  of  the  horse's  neck  and  head  corre- 
spond to  the  length  of  its  legs?     Why? 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

2.  Study  the  horse's  leg  and  foot.  The  horse  walks  on  one  toe. 
Which  toe  do  you  think  it  is?  What  do  we  call  the  toe-nail  of  the  horse? 
What  advantage  is  this  sort  of  a  foot  to  the  horse?  Is  it  best  fitted  for 
running  on  dry  plains  or  for  marshy  land?  Does  the  hoof  grow  as  our 
nails  do?  Do  you  know  whether  there  were  ever  any  horses  with  three 
toes  or  four  toes  on  each  foot?  Make  a  sketch  of  the  horse's  front  and 
hind  leg  and  label  those  places  which  correspond  to  our  wrist,  elbow, 
shoulder,  hand,  heel,  knee  and  hip. 

3.  Where  are  the  horse's  ears  placed  on  the  head?  How  do  they 
move?  Do  they  flap  back  and  forth  like  the  cow's  ears  when  they  are 
moved,  or  do  they  turn  as  if  on  a  pivot?  What  do  the  following  different 
positions  of  the  horse's  ears  indicate :  When  lifted  and  pointing  forward  ? 
When  thrown  back?  Can  you  tell  by  the  action  of  the  ears  whether  a 
horse  is  nervous  and  high-strung  or  not? 

4.  What  is  the  color  of  the  horse's  eyes?  The  shape  of  the  pupil? 
What  advantage  does  the  position  of  the  eyes  on  the  head  give  to  the  wild 
horse?  Why  do  we  put  blinders  on  a  horse?  Can  you  tell  by  the  expres- 
sion of  the  eye  the  temper  of  the  horse? 

5.  Look  at  the  mouth  and  nose.  Are  the  nostrils  large  and  flaring? 
Has  the  horse  a  keen  sense  of  smell?  Are  the  lips  thick  or  thin ?  When 
taking  sugar  from  the  hand,  does  the  horse  use  teeth  or  lips? 

6.  Describe  the  horse's  teeth.  How  many  front  teeth ?  How  many 
back  teeth?     Describe  the  bar  where  the  bit  is  placed.     Are  there  any 

PALO    ALTO    IN   fS92. 

"Palo  Alio',  a  famous   ntituiHi;  horse. 

Mammal  Study  293 

canine  teeth  ?  If  so,  where  ?  Do  you  know  how  to  tell  a  horse's  age  by 
its  teeth?  (See  Elements  of  Agriculture,  Warren,  page  304,  and  The 
Horse,  Roberts,  page  246.)  Can  a  horse  graze  the  grass  more  closely 
than  a  cow?  Why?  When  it  chews  does  it  move  the  jaws  sidewise  like 
the  cow?  Why?  Why  did  the  wild  horses  not  need  to  develop  a  cud- 
chewing  habit? 

7.  W^hat  is  the  nature  of  the  horse's  coat  in  summer?  If  the  horse 
runs  in  the  pasture  all  winter,  how  does  its  coat  change?  When  does  the 
horse  shed  its  coat?  What  is  the  use  of  the  horse's  mane,  forelock  and 
tail?     Do  you  think  it  is  treating  the  horse  well  to  dock  its  tail? 

8.  Why  do  colts  need  to  be  so  long-legged?  How  does  a  colt  have 
to  place  its  front  legs  in  order  to  reach  down  and  eat  the  grass?  Does  the 
colt  need  to  take  its  food  from  the  mother  often?  How  does  it  differ 
from  the  calf  in  this  respect?  How  has  this  difference  of  habit  resulted 
in  a  difference  of  form  in  the  calf  and  colt? 

9.  When  the  horse  lies  down  which  part  goes  down  first?  When 
getting  up  which  rises  first?  How  does  this  differ  from  the  method  of  the 
cow?  When  the  horse  lies  down  to  sleep  does  it  have  its  legs  partially 
under  it   like   the   cow? 

10.  In  walking  which  leg  moves  first?  Second?  Third?  Fourth? 
How  many  gaits  has  the  horse?  Describe  as  well  as  you  can  all  of  these 
gaits.  (See  pictures  illustrating  the  word  "movement"  in  the  Standard 

11.  Make  a  sketch  of  a  horse  showing  the  parts.  (See  Webster's 
Unabridged).  When  we  say  a  horse  is  fourteen  hands  high  what  do  v/e 

12.  In  fighting,  what  weapons  does  the  horse  use  and  how? 

13.  In  training  a  horse,  should  the  voice  or  the  whip  be  used  the 
most?  What  qualities  should  a  man  have  to  be  a  good  horse  trainer? 
Why  is  shying  a  good  quality  in  wild  horses  ?  How  should  it  be  dealt  with 
in  the  domestic  horse? 

14.  W^hat  sort  of  feed  is  best  for  the  horse?  How  and  when  should 
the  horse  be  watered?  Should  the  water  be  warmed  in  cold  weather? 
Why?  Should  the  bit  be  warmed  in  winter  before  putting  it  in  a  horse's 
mouth?  Why?  Should  a  tight  over  check-rein  be  used  when  driving? 
W^hy?  When  the  horse  has  been  driven  until  it  is  sweating  what  are  the 
rules  for  blanketing  it  when  hitched  out  of  doors  and  when  hitched  in  the 
barn?  What  is  your  opinion  of  a  man  who  lets  his  horse  stand  waiting  in 
the  cold,  unblanketed  in  the  village  street.  If  horses  were  kept  out  of 
doors  all  the  time  would  this  treatment  be  so  cruel  and  dangerous  ?  Why  ? 
Why  should  dusty  hay  be  dampened  before  it  is  fed  to  a  horse?  Why 
should  a  horse  be  groomed?  Which  should  receive  the  most  attention, 
the  legs  or  the  body? 

15.  How  many  breeds  of  horses  do  you  know?  What  is  the  use  of 
each?  Describe  as  well  as  you  can  the  characteristics  of  the  following 
breeds:  The  thoroughbred,  the  hackney,  and  other  coach-horses;  the 
American  trotter,  the  Percheron,  the  Clydesdale. 

16.  Write  English  themes  on  the  following  subjects:  "The  Pre- 
historic Horses  of  America,"  "The  Arabian  Horse  and  Its  Life  With  Its 
Master,"  "The  Bronchos  and  Mustangs  of  the  West,"  "The  Wild  Horses 
of  Tartary,"  "The  Zebras  of  Africa."  "The  Shetland  Ponies  and  the 
Islands  on  Which  Thev  Run  Wild." 

294  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

Supplementary  reading — The  Horse,  Roberts;  Elements  of  Agricul- 
ture, Warren;  Life  of  Animals,  Cram;  Neighbors  with  Claws  and  Hoofs; 
A  Country  Reader;  Agriculture  for  Beginners;  Black  Beauty;  John 
Brent,  by  Theodore  Withrop;  Half  Hours  with  Mammals,  Holder; 
Chapters  on  Animals,  Hammerton;  "Kaweah's  Run"  in  Claws  and 


Many  horses  shy  a  good  deal  at  objects  they  meet  on  the  road.  This  mostly  arises 
from  nervousness,  because  the  objects  are  not  famtliar  to  them.  Therefore,  to  cure  the 
habit,  you  must  get  your  horse  accustomed  to  what  he  sees,  and  so  give  him  confidence. 
.  Be  careful  never  to  stop  a  horse  that  is  drawing  a  vehicle  or  load  in  the  middle 
of  a  hill,  except  for  a  rest;  and  if  for  a  rest,  draw  him  across  the  hill  and  place  a  big 
stone  behind  the  wheel,  so  that  the  strain  on  the  shoidder  may  be  eased.  Unless  abso- 
lutely necessary  never  stop  a  horse  on  a  hill  or  in  a  rut,  so  that  when  he  starts  again  it 
means  a  heavy  tug.  Many  a  horse  has  been  made  a  jibber  and  his  temper  spoilt  by 
not  observing  this  ride. 

— H.  B.  M.  Buchanan  in  "A  Country  Reader." 

Mammal  Study 




^XSfcl/  -^    ' "  '■*r^ 

TZ/f  original  wild  cattle  of  America. 
Photo  by  John  L.  Rich. 

Teacher's  Story 

That  in  numbers  there  is  safety,  is  a  basic  principle  in  the  Hves  of 
wild  cattle,  probably  because  their  chief  enemies,  the  wolves,  hunted  in 
packs.  It  has  often  been  related  that,  when  the  herd  is  attacked  by 
wolves,  the  calves  are  placed  at  the  center  of  the  circle  made  by  the  cattle, 
standing  with  heads  out  and  horns  ready  for  attack  from  every  quarter. 
But  when  a  single  animal,  like  a  bear  or  tiger,  attacks  any  of  the  herd, 
they  all  gather  around  it  in  a  narrowing  circle  of  clashing  horns,  and 
many  of  these  great  beasts  of  prey  have  thus  met  their  death.  The  cow 
is  as  formidable  as  the  bull  to  the  enemv,  since  her  horns  are  strong  and 
sharp  and  she  tosses  her  victim,  unless  it  is  too  large.  The  heavy  head, 
neck  and  short  massive  horns  of  the  bull,  are  not  so  much  for  defence 
against  enemies  as  against  rival  bulls.  The  bull  not  only  tosses  and  gores 
his  victim,  but  kneels  or  tramples  upon  it.  Both  have  effective  weapons 
of  defence  in  the  hind  feet,  which  kick  powerfully.  The  buffalo  bull  of 
India  will  attack  a  tiger  single  handed,  and  usually  successfully.  It  is  a 
strange  thing  that  all  cattle  are  driven  mad  by  the  smell  of  blood,  and 
weird  stories  are  told  of  the  stampeding  of  herds  from  this  cause,  on  the 
plains  of  our  great  West. 

Cattle  are  essentially  grass  and  herbage  eaters,  and  their  teeth  are 
peculiarly  arranged  for  this.  There  are  eight  front  teeth  on  the  lower 
jaw,  and  a  homy  pad  opposite  them  on  the  upper  jaw.  Back  of  these  on 
each  jaw  there  is  a  bare  place  and  six  grinding  teeth  on  each  side.  As  a 
cow  crops  the  herbage,  her  head  is  moved  up  and  down  to  aid  in  severing 
the  leaves,  and  the  peculiar  sound  of  the  tearing  of  the  leaves  thus  made 
is  not  soon  forgotten  by  those  who  have  heard  it.  In  the  wild  or  domes- 
ticated state  the  habit  of  cud-chewing  is  this :  The  cattle  graze  in  morn- 
ings and  evenings,  swallowing  the  food  as  fast  as  cropped,  and  storing  it 


Course  of  food  -in  a 

cow's  stomach. 

I,  niminant  stomach;  II,  where 

the  cud-balls  are  formed; 

III.  IV,  true  stomachs, 

mother;      the     young 
for    a    long    journey; 

and      will 

stir      unless 


mother      is 

to  be    absent 

As     the 
for  some  time  grazing 
with    the    herd,     the 
calf   is  obliged    to   go 
without    nourishment 
for  a  number  of  hours, 
and  so  it  is  provided 
with  a  large  compound 
stomach  which,  if  filled 
twice  per  day,  suffices 
to   insure  health   and 
growth.    The  cow,  on 
the  other  hand,   giv- 
ing her  milk  out  only 
twice  per  day,  needs  a 
large  udder  in  which 
to  store  it.     The  size 
of  the  udder  is  what 
has    made    the    cow 
useful  to  us  as  a  milch 

A  fine  cow  is  a 
beautiful  creature,  her 
soft  yellow  skin  be- 
neath the  sleek  coat 
of  short  hair,  the  well 
proportioned  body, 
the  mild  face,  crowned 
with  spreading, 
polished  horns  and 
illuminated  with  large 
gentle     eyes,     are    all 

Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

in  their  ruminating  stomachs.  During  the 
heat  of  the  day,  they  move  to  the  shade, 
preferably  to  the  shady  banks  of  streams, 
and  there  in  quiet  the  food  is  brought 
up,  a  small  portion  at  a  time,  and  chewed  with 
a  peculiar  sidewise  movement  of  the  jaws  and 
then  swahowed,  passing  to  the  true  stomach. 
There  is  probably  no  more  perfect  picture  of 
utter  contentment,  than  a  herd  of  cows  chewing 

■  their  cuds  in  the  shade,  or  standing  knee-deep 
in  the  cool  stream  on  a  summer's  day.  The 
cattle  in  a  herd  when  grazing,  keep  abreast  and 
move  along,  heads  in  the  same  direction. 

Connected  with  the  grazing  habit,  is  that  of 

the    hiding    of    the    new-bom      calf    by     its 

calf  is     a      wabbly     creature     and    ill-fitted 

so   the    mother    hides    it,    and   there    it    stays 

<i«-- •:•;,. 

A  pet  Holstein. 

Mammal  Study  297 

elements  of  beauty  which  artists  have  recognized,  especially  those 
of  the  Dutch  school.  The  ancients  also  admired  bovine  eyes,  and 
called  their  most  beautiful  goddess  the  ox-eyed  Juno. 

The  cow's  ears  can  be  turned  in  any  direction,  and  her  sense  of  hearing 
is  keen;  so  is  her  sense  of  smell,  aided  by  the  moist,  sensitive  skin  of  the 
nose;  she  always  snififs  danger  and  also  thus  tests  her  food.  Although  a 
cow  if  well  kept  has  a  sleek  coat,  when  she  is  allowed  to  run  out  of  doors 
during  the  winter,  her  hair  grows  long  and  shaggy  as  a  protection.  The 
cow  walks  on  two  toes,  or  as  we  say  has  a  split  hoof.  She  has  two  lesser 
toes  above  and  behind  the  hoofs  which  we  call  dew-claws.  The  part  of 
her  leg  which  seems  at  first  glance  to  be  her  knee,  is  really  her  wrist  or 
ankle.  Although  short-legged,  the  cow  is  a  good  runner,  as  those  who 
have  chased  her  can  bear  witness.  She  can  walk,  gallop  and  has  a  pacing 
trot;  she  is  a  remarkable  jumper,  often  taking  a  fence  like  a  deer;  she 
also  has  marvelous  powers  as  a  swimmer,  a  case  being  on  record  where  a 
cow  swam  five  miles.  But  a  cow  would  be  illy  equipped  for  comfort  if  it 
were  not  for  her  peculiar  tail,  which  is  made  after  the  most  approved 
pattern  of  fly-brushes,  and  is  thus  used.  Woe  betide  the  fly  she  hits  with 
it,  if  the  blow  is  as  efficient  as  that  which  she  incidentally  bestows  on  the 
head  of  the  milker.  It  is  to  get  rid  of  flies,  that  the  cattle,  and  especially 
the  buffaloes,  wallow  in  the  mud,  and  thus  coat  themselves  with  a  fly- 
proof  armor. 

There  is  a  fairly  extensive  range  of  emotions  expressed  in  cattle 
language,  from  the  sullen  bellow  of  the  angry  animal  to  the  lowing  which 
is  the  call  of  the  herd,  and  the  mooing  which  is  meant  for  the  calf;  and 
there  are  many  other  bellowings  and  mutterings  which  we  can  partially 

Every  herd  of  cows  has  its  leader,  which  has  won  the  position  by  fair 
fight.  Add  a  new  cow  to  the  herd,  and  there  is  at  once  a  trial  of  strength, 
to  adjust  her  to  her  proper  place;  and  in  a  herd  of  cows,  the  leader  leads; 
she  goes  first  and  no  one  may  say  her  nay.  In  fact,  each  member  of  the 
herd  has  her  place  in  it;  and  that  is  why  it  is  so  easy  to  teach  cows  each 
to  take  her  own  stanchion  in  the  stable.  In  a  herd  of  forty  cows  which  I 
knew,  each  cow  took  her  stanchion,  no  matter  in  what  order  vShe  happened 
to  enter  the  stable. 

A  cow  at  play  is  a  funny  sight;  her  tail  is  lifted  aloft  like  a  pennant  and 
she  kicks  as  lightly  as  if  she  were  made  of  rubber.  She  is  also  a  sure- 
footed beast,  as  anvone  can  attest  who  has  seen  her  nmning  down  the 
rocky  mountain  sides  of  the  Alps,  at  a  headlong  pace  and  never  making  a 
mistake.  In  lying  down,  the  cow  first  kneels  with  the  front  legs,  or 
rather  drops  on  her  wrists,  and  then  the  hind  quarters  go  down,  and  then 
the  front  follow.  She  does  not  lie  flat  on  her  side  when  resting,  like  the 
horse  when  at  ease,  but  with  her  legs  partially  under  her.  In  getting  up, 
she  rests  upon  her  wrists  and  then  lifts  the  hind  quarters. 

TJw  Usefulness  of  Cattle 

When  man  emerged  from  the  savage  state,  his  first  step  toward  civili- 
zation was  domesticating  wild  animals  and  training  them  for  his  own  use. 
During  the  nomad  stage,  when  tribes  wandered  over  the  face  of  the 
earth,  they  took  their  cattle  along.  From  the  first,  these  animals  have 
been  used  in  three  capacities :     First,  for  carrying  burdens  and  as  draught 


Hafidbook  of  Nature-Study 

animals;  second,  as  meat;  third,  as  givers  of  milk.  They  were  also  used 
in  the  earlier  ages  as  sacrifices  to  the  various  deities,  and  in  Egypt,  some 
were  held  as  sacred. 

As  beasts  of  burden  and  draft  animals,  oxen  are  still  used  in  many 
parts  of  the  United  States.  For  logging,  especially  in  pioneer  days,  oxen 
were  far  more  valuable  than  horses.  They  are  patient  and  will  pull  a  few 
inches  at  a  time,  if  necessary,  a  tedious  work  which  the  nervous  horse 
refuses  to  endure.  Cows  too,  have  been  used  as  draft  animals,  and  are  so 
used  in  China  today,  where  they  do  most  of  the  plowing;  in  these  oriental 
countries  milk  is  not  consumed  to  any  extent,  so  the  cow  is  kept  for  the 
work  she  can  do.  In  ancient  times  in  the  East,  white  oxen  formed  a  part 
of  royal  processions. 

Uctj  cattle. 

Because  of  two  main  uses  of  cattle  by  civilized  man,  he  has  bred  them 
in  two  directions;  one  for  producing  beef,  and  one  for  milk.  The  beef 
cattle  are  chiefly  Aberdeen-Angus,  Galloway,  Short-horn  or  Durham,  and 
Hereford;  the  dairy  breeds  are  the  Jersey,  Guernsey,  Ayrshire,  Holstein- 
Frisian  and  Brown  Swiss.  The  beef  animal  is,  in  cross-section,  approxi- 
mately like  a  brick  set  sidewise.  It  should  be  big  and  full  across  the  loins 
and  back,  the  shoulders  and  hips  covered  heavily  with  flesh,  the  legs  stout, 
the  neck  thick  and  short,  and  the  face  short;  the  line  of  the  back  is 
straight,  and  the  stomach  line  parallel  with  it.  Very  different  is  the 
appearance  of  the  milch  cow.  Her  body  is  oval,  instead  of  being  approxi- 
mately square  in  cross-section.     The  outline  of  her  back  is  not  straight, 

Mammal  Stiidy  299 

but  sags  in  front  of  the  hips,  which  are  prominent  and  bony.  The 
shoulders  have  Httle  flesh  on  them;  and  if  looked  at  from  above,  her  body- 
is  wedge-shaped,  widening  from  shoulders  backward.  The  stomach  line 
is  not  parallel  with  the  back  bone,  but  slants  downward  from  the  shoulder 
to  the  udder.  The  following  are  the  points  that  indicate  a  good  milch 
cow:  Head  high  between  the  eyes,  showing  large  air  passages  and 
indicating  strong  lungs.  Eyes  clear,  large  and  placid,  indicating  good 
disposition.  Mouth  large,  with  a  muscular  lower  jaw,  showing  ability  to 
chew  efficiently  and  rapidly.  Neck,  thin  and  fine,  showing  veins  through 
the  skin.  Chest  deep  and  wide,  showing  plenty  of  room  for  heart  and 
lungs.  Abdomen,  large  but  well  supported,  and  increasing  in  size  toward 
the  rear.  Ribs,  well  spread,  not  meeting  the  spine  like  the  peak  of  a  roof, 
but  the  spine  must  be  prominent,  revealing  to  the  touch  the  separate 
vertebrae.  Hips,  much  broader  than  the  shoulders.  Udder,  large,  the 
four  quarters  of  equal  size,  and  not  fat;  the  "milk  veins"  which  carry 
the  blood  from  the  udder  should  be  large  and  crooked,  passing  into  the 
abdomen  through  large  openings.  Skin,  soft,  pliable  and  covered  with 
fine,  oily  hair.  She  should  have  good  digestion  and  great  powers  of 
assimilation.  The  milch  cow  is  a  milk-making  machine,  and  the  more 
fuel  (food)  she  can  use,  the  greater  her  production. 

The  physiological  habits  of  the  beef  and  milch  cattle  have  been 
changed  as  much  as  their  structure.  The  food  given  to  the  beef  cow  goes 
to  make  flesh;  while  that  given  to  the  milch  cow  goes  to  make  milk, 
however  abundant  her  food.  Of  course,  there  are  all  grades  between  the 
beef  and  the  milch  types,  for  many  farmers  use  dual  herds  for  both. 
However,  if  a  farmer  is  producing  milk  it  pays  him  well  to  get  the  best 
possible  machine  to  make  it,  and  that  is  always  a  cow  of  the  right  type. 

A  Geography  Lesson 

All  the  best  breeds  of  cattle  have  been  evolved  in  the  British  Isles  and 
in  Europe  north  of  Italy  and  west  of  Russia.  All  our  domesticated  cattle 
were  developed  from  wild  cattle  of  Europe  and  Asia.  The  cattle  which 
roam  in  our  rapidly  narrowing  grazing  lands  of  the  far  West  are  European 
cattle.  America  had  no  wild  cattle  except  the  bison.  In  geography 
supplementary  readers,  read  about  Scotland,  England,  the  Channel 
Islands,  the  Netherlands,  France  and  Switzerland  and  the  dift'erent  kinds 
of  cattle  developed  in  these  countries;  for  example,  "A  Holland  Dairy," 
in  Northern  Europe,  Ginn  &  Co. 

How  to  Produce  Good  Milk 

There  are  three  main  ingredients  of  milk — fat,  curd  and  ash.  The 
fat  is  for  the  purpose  of  supplying  the  animal  with  fat  and  we  make  it  into 
butter;  the  curd  supplies  muscle,  or  the  lean  meat  of  the  animal,  and 
is  the  main  ingredient  of  cheese,  although  cheese  to  be  good  should  con- 
tain a  full  amount  of  butter  fat;  the  ash  which  may  be  seen  as  residue 
when  milk  is  evaporated,  builds  up  the  bone  of  the  animal.  The  best 
butter  cows  are  those  which  give  a  larger  per  cent,  of  fat  and  a  small 
per  cent,  of  curd,  like  the  Jerseys;  the  best  cheese  cows  are  those 
which  give  a  fair  per  cent,  of  fat  and  a  larger  yield  of  curd,  like  the 
Ayrshire  and  Holstein. 


Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

A  cow  for  producing  cheese,  is  not  profitable,  unless  she  gives  seven 
thousand  pounds  of  milk  per  year;  a  butter  cow,  a  Jersey  for  instance, 
should  produce  five  thousand  pounds  of  milk  per  year  to  be  really 

The  stable  where  milch  cows  are  kept  should  be  thoroughly  cleaned 
before  each  milking,  and  should  be  swept  each  day;  the  cows'  udders 
should  be  brushed,  and  the  milkers  should  wear  clean  aprons  and  should 
wash  their  hands  before  milking.  Milk  should  never  be  strained  in  the 
bam,  but  in  some  place  where  the  air  is  fresh.  If  milk  is  perfectly  clean, 
it  will  keep  sweet  much  longer;  sterilized  milk  put  in  bottles  will  keep 
sweet  for  weeks  and  even  months.  Loud  talking  should  not  be  permitted 
in  the  stables  while  the  cows  are  being  milked,  and  each  cow  should  be 
milked  by  the  same  person  for  the  entire  season. 


TJie  perfect  milch  type. 

Milk  to  be  legally  sold  in  New  York  State  must  possess  three  per  cent, 
of  butter  fat.  For  upper  grades  or  first  year  work  in  the  high  school, 
there  could  not  be  a  more  profitable  exercise  than  teaching  the  pupils  the 
use  of  the  Babcock  milk  tester. 

The  Care  of  the  Milch  Cow 

The  importance  cannot  be  over-estimated  of  teaching  the  pupils  in 
rural  districts,  the  proper  care  of  milch  cattle  for  the  production  of  milk. 
The  milch  cow  is  a  perfect  machine,  and  should  be  regarded  as  such  in 
producing  milk.  First,  she  should  have  plenty  of  food  of  the  right  kind, 
that  is,  a  w^ll-balanced  ration.  Second,  she  should  have  a  warm,  clean 
stable  and  be  siipplied  with  plenty  of  good,  fresh  air.  A  cold  stable 
makes  it  necessary  to  provide  much  more  food  for  the  cow;  a  case  on 
record  shows  that  when  a  bam  was  opened  up  in  cold  weather  for  neces- 
sary repairing,  the  amount  of  milk  from  the  cows  stabled  in  it,  decreased 
ten  per  cent,  in  twenty-four  hours.     There  should  be  a  protected  place  for 

Mammal  Study  301 

drinking,  if  the  cattle  must  be  turned  out  of  the  bam  for  water  in  winter; 
it  is  far  better  to  have  the  water  piped  into  the  bam,  although  the  herd 
should  be  given  a  few  hours  each  day  in  the  open  air.  A  dog  should 
never  be  used  for  driving  cows.  To  be  profitable,  a  cow  should  give  milk 
ten  months  of  the  year  at  least.  Calves  should  be  dehorned  when  they 
are  a  few  days  old  by  putting  caustic  potash  on  the  budding  horns,  thus 
obviating  the  danger  of  damaging  the  cow  by  dehorning. 

In  a  properly  run  dairy,  a  pair  of  scales  stands  near  the  can  for  receiv- 
ing the  milk;  and  as  the  milk  from  each  cow  is  brought  in,  it  is  weighed 
and  the  amount  set  down  opposite  the  cow's  name  on  a  "milk  sheet,"  that 
is  tacked  on  the  wall,  near  by.  At  the  end  of  each  week,  the  figures  on 
the  milk  sheet  are  added,  and  the  farmer  knows  just  how  much  milk  each 
cow  is  giving  him,  and  w^hether  there  are  any  in  the  herd  which  are  not 
paying  their  board. 

References — Elements  of  Agriculture,  AVarren;  Agriculture  for 
Beginners,  Burkett,  Stevens  and  Hill,  p.  216;  First  Principles  of  Agricul- 
ture, Vorhees,  p.  117;  Elements  of  Agriculture,  Sever,  p.  57;  Ele- 
ments of  Agriculture,  Shepperd,  chapters  15  and  22;  First  Principles 
of  Agriculture,  Goff  and  Maine,  p.  154;  Agriculture  Through  the 
Laboratory,  School  and  Garden,  Jackson  and  Dougherty,  chapter  8;  The 
Dairy  Herd,  Farmers'  Bulletin  No.  55,  U.  S.  Dept.  of  Agr.;  Care  of  Milk 
on  the  Farm,  Farmers'  Bulletin  No.  63,  U.  S.  Dept.  of  Agr. 

The  Cow 

Leading  thought — Certain  characteristics  which  enable  the  cow  to  live 
successfully  as  a  wild  animal,  have  rendered  her  of  great  use  to  us  as  a 
domestic  animal. 

Method — Begin  the  lesson  with  leading  the  pupils  to  understand  the 
peculiar  adaptation  of  cattle  for  success,  as  wild  animals.  This  will  have 
to  be  done  largely  by  reading  and  asking  for  oral  or  written  work  on  the 
following  topics:  "The  Aurochs,"  "Wild  Cattle  of  the  Scottish  High- 
lands," "The  BufYaloes  of  the  Orient,"  "The  American  Bison,"  "The 
Cow-boys  of  the  West  and  their  Work  with  their  Herds,"  "The  Breeds  of 
Beef  Cattle,  Where  they  Came  From,  and  Where  Developed,"  "The 
Breeds  of  Milch  Cattle,  their  Origin  and  Names."  The  following  ques- 
tions may  be  given  out  a  few  at  a  time  and  answered  as  the  pupils  have 
opportunity  for  observation. 

Observations — i .  W^hat  are  the  characteristics  of  a  fine  cow?  Describe 
her  horns,  ears,  eyes,  nose  and  mouth.  Do  you  think  she  can  hear  well? 
What  is  the  attitude  of  her  ears  when  she  is  listening?  Do  you  think  she 
has  a  keen  sense  of  smell?  Is  hernose  moist?  Is  her  hair  long  or  short? 
Smooth  or  rough  ? 

2.  The  cow  walks  on  two  toes.  Can  you  see  any  other  toes  which  she 
does  not  walk  on  ?  Why  is  the  cow's  foot  better  adapted  than  that  of  the 
horse,  to  walk  in  mud  and  marshes?  What  do  we  call  the  two  hind  toes 
which  she  does  not  walk  on?  Can  you  point  out  on  the  cow's  leg  those 
parts  which  correspond  with  our  elbow,  wrist,  knee  and  ankle?  Is  the 
cow  a  good  runner?     Is  she  a  good  jumper?     Can  she  swim? 

302  Handbook  of  Nature-Study 

3.  For  what  use  was  the  cow's  tail  evidently  intended?  How  do  the 
wild  buffalos  and  bisons  get  rid  of  attacks  of  flies? 

4.  How  much  of  cattle  language  do  you  understand?  How  does  the 
cow  express  pleasure?  Lonesomeness?  Anger?  How  does  the  bull 
express  anger?     What  does  the  calf  express  with  the  voice? 

5.  Is  there  always  a  leader  in  a  herd  of  cows?  Do  certain  cows  of 
the  herd  always  go  first  and  others  last?  Do  the  cows  readily  learn  to 
take  each  her  own  place  in  the  stable?  How  is  leadership  of  the  herd 
attained  ?     Describe  cattle  at  play. 

6.  At  what  time  of  day  do  cattle  feed  in  the  pasture?  When  and 
where  do  they  chew  the  cud ?  Do  they  stand  or  lie  to  do  this?  Describe 
how  a  cow  lies  down  and  gets  up. 

7.  How  do  wild  cattle  defend  themselves  from  wolves?  From  bears 
or  other  solitary  animals? 

8.  For  what  purposes  were  cattle  first  domesticated?  For  how 
many  purposes  do  we  rear  cattle  today? 

9.  Name  and  give  brief  descriptions  of  the  different  breeds  of  cattle 
with  which  you  are  familiar.  Which  of  these  are  beef  and  which  milch 

10.  What  are  the  distinguishing  points  of  a  good  milch  cow?  Of  a 
good  beef  animal?  What  does  the  food  do  for  each  of  these?  Which 
part  of  the  United  States  produces  most  beef  cattle?  Which  the  most 
milch  cattle? 

1 1 .  What  do  we  mean  by  a  balanced  ration  ?  Do  you  know  how  to 
compute  one?  What  is  the  advantage  of  feeding  cattle  a  balanced 
ration  ? 

12.  How  many  pounds  of  milk  should  a  dairy  cow  produce  in  a  year 
to  be  profitable  if  the  product  is  cheese?  If  the  product  is  butter?  Why 
this  discrepancy?  What  must  be  the  percent,  of  butter  fat  in  milk  to 
make  it  legally  salable  in  your  state?  How  many  months  of  the  year 
should  a  good  cow  give  milk? 

13.  Why  should  a  cow  be  milked  always  by  the  same  person  ?  Does 
the  milker  always  sit  on  the  same  side?  Why  should  loud  talking  and 
other  noise  at  milking  time  be  avoided?  Should  a  dog  be  used  in  driving 
dairy  cows?     Why? 

14.  Why  is  a  cool  draughty  barn  an  expensive  place  in  which  to  keep 
cattle?     Why  is  a  barn  not  well-ventilated,  a  danger? 

15.  Why  and  where  is  the  dehorning  of  cattle  practiced?  When  and 
how  should  a  calf  be  dehorned? 

16.  Why  should  milk  not  be  strained  in  the  bam?  Why  is  it  profit- 
able for  the  dairy  farmer  to  keep  his  stable  clean  and  to  be  cleanly  in  the 
care  of  milk?  How  does  the  food  of  cows  affect  the  flavor  of  the  milk? 
Why  should  a  farmer  keep  a  record  of  the  number  of  pounds  of  milk  which 
each  cow  in  his  dairy  gives  each  day? 

17.  For  what  are  oxen  used?  Wherein  are  they  superior  to  horses 
as 'draft  animals?  Do  you  know  of  any  place  where  oxen  are  used  as 
riding  animals? 

18.  How  many  industries  are  dependent  upon  cattle? 

19.  Give  oral  or  written  exercises  on  the  following  themes :  "How 
the  Best  Butter  is  Made;"  "The  Use  of  Bacteria  in  Butter;"  "How  Dairy 
Cheese  is  Made;"    "How  Fancy  Cheeses  are  Made." 

Mammal  Study 


Teacher's  Story 

"I  uandcr  through  the  underbresh, 
Where  pig  tracks  ptntiii'  to'rds  the  crick, 
Is  picked  and  printed  in  the  fresh 
Black  bottom-lands,  like  wimnien  prick 
Their  pie-crust  with  a  fork." — Rilev. 

|Y  a  forest  law  of  William  the  First  of  England  in  the 
eleventh  century,  it  was  ordained  that  any  that  were 
found  guilty  of  killing  the  stag  or  the  roebuck  or  the 
wild  boar,  should  have  their  eyes  put  out.  This  shows 
that  the  hunting  of  the  wild  boar  in  England  was 
considered  a  sport  of  gentlemen  in  an  age  when  nothing 
was  considered  sport  unless  it  was  dangerous.  The 
wild  hog  of  Europe  is  the  ancestor  of  our  common 
domesticated  breeds;  although  independent  of  these,  the  Chinese  domes- 
ticated their  own  wild  species,  even  before  the  dawn  of  history. 

The  wild  hog  likes  damp  situations  where  it  may  wallow  in  the  water 
and  mud;  but  it  also  likes  to  have,  close  by,  woods,  thicket  or  under- 
brush, to  which  it  can  retire  for  rest  and  also  when  in  danger.  The  stiff, 
bristling  hairs  which  cover  its  thick  skin,  are  a  great  protection  when  it  is 
pushing  through  thorny  thickets.  When  excited  or  angry,  these  bristles 
rise  and  add  to  the  fury  of  its  appearance.  Even  in  our  own  country, 
the  wild  hogs  of  the  South  whose  ancestors  escaped  from  domestication, 
have  reverted  to  their  original  savagery,  and  are  dangerous  when  infuri- 
ated. The  onlv  recorded  instance  when  our  great  national  hunter,  Theo- 
dore  Roosevelt,  was  forced  ignominiously  to  climb  a  tree,  was  after  he 

Anxious   for  diniu^r. 

304  Hmuibook  of  Nature-SUidy 

had  emptied  his  rifle  into  a  herd  of  "javeHns,"  as  the  wild  pigs  of  Texas 
are  called;  the  javelins  are  the  peccaries,  which  are  the  American  repre- 
sentatives of  the  wild  hog. 

That  the  hog  has  become  synonymous  with  filth  is  the  result  of  the 
influence  of  man  upon  this  animal,  for  of  all  animals,  the  pig  is  naturally 
the  neatest,  keeping  its  bed  clean,  often  in  the  most  discouraging  and  ill- 
kept  pens.  The  pig  is  sparsely  clothed  with  bristles  and  hairs,  which 
yield  it  no  protection  from  the  attacks  of  flies  and  other  insects.  Thus  it 
is  the  pig,  in  order  to  rid  itself  of  these  pests,  has  learned  to  wallow  in  the 
mud.  However,  this  is  in  the  nature  of  a  mud  bath,  and  is  for  the  pur- 
pose of  keeping  the  body  free  from  vermin.  The  wild  hogs  of  India  make 
for  themselves  grass  huts,  thatched  above  and  with  doors  at  the  sides, 
whieh  shows  that  the  pig,  if  allowed  to  care  for  itself,  understands  well 
the  art  of  nest-building. 

One  of  the  most  interesting  things  about  a  pig,  is  its  nose;  this  is  a 
fleshy  disc  with  nostrils  in  it  and  is  a  most  sensitive  organ  of  feeling;  it 
can  select  grain  from  chaff,  and  yet  is  so  strong  that  it  can  root  up  the 
ground  in  search  for  food.  "Root"  is  a  pig  word,  and  was  evidently 
coined  to  describe  the  act  of  the  pig  when  digging  for  roots;  the  pig's  nose 
is  almost  as  remarkable  as  the  elephant's  trunk,  and  the  pig's  sense  of 
smell  is  very  keen ;  it  will  follow  a  track  almost  as  well  as  a  dog.  There 
are  more  instances  than  one  of  a  pig  being  trained  as  a  pointer  for  hunting 
birds,  and  showing  a  keener  sense  of  smell,  and  keener  intelligence  in 
this  capacity,  than  do  dogs.  French  pigs  are  taught  to  hunt  for  truffles, 
which  are  fungi  growing  on  tree  roots,  a  long  way  below  the  surface  of  the 
ground;   the  pig  detects  their  presence  through  the  sense  of  smell. 

The  pig  has  a  full  set  of  teeth,  having  six  incisors,  two  canines  and 
seven  grinding  teeth  on  each  jaw;  although  in  some  cases  there  are  only 
four  incisors  on  the  upper  jaw.  A  strange  thing  about  a  pig's  teeth,  is  the 
action  of  the  upper  canines,  or  tushes,  which  curve  upward  instead  of 
downward;  the  lower  canines  grind  up  against  them,  and  are  thus 
sharpened.  The  females  have  no  such  development  of  upper  tushes  as 
do  the  males;  these  tushes,  especially  the  upper  ones,  are  used  as  weapons; 
with  them,  the  wild  boar  slashes  out  and  upward,  inflicting  terrible 
wounds,  often  disabling  horses  and  killing  men.  Professor  H.  F.  Button 
describes  the  fighting  of  hogs  thus:  "To  oppose  the  terrible  weapons  of 
his  rival,  the  boar  has  a  shield  of  skin  over  his  neck  and  shoulders,  which 
may  become  two  inches  thick,  and  so  hard  as  to  defy  a  knife.  When  two 
of  these  animals  fight,  each  tries  to  keep  the  tushes  of  his  opponent  against 
the  shield,  and  to  get  his  own  tushes  under  the  belly  or  flank  of  the  other. 
Thus,  each  goes  sidewise  or  in  circles,  which  has  given  rise  to  the  expres- 
sion, 'to  go  sidewise  like  a  hog  to  war.'  " 

When,  as  a  small  girl,  I  essayed  the  difficult  task  of  working  button- 
holes, I  was  told  if  I  did  not  set  my  stitches  more  closely  together,  my 
buttonhole  would  look  like  a  pig's  eye,  a  remark  which  made  me  observant 
of  that  organ  ever  after.  But  though  the  pig's  eyes  are  small,  they  cer- 
tainly gleam  with  intelligence,  and  they  take  in  all  that  is  going  on, 
which  may  in  any  way  affect  his  pigship. 

The  pig  is  the  most  intelligent  of  all  the  farm  animals,  if  it  is  only  given 
a  chance;  it  has  excellent  memory  and  can  be  taught  tricks  readily;  it  is 
affectionate  and  will  follow  its  master  around  like  a  dog.  Anyone  who 
has  seen  a  trained  pig  at  a  show  picking  out  cards  and  counting,  must 

Mammal  Study 


grant  that  it  has  brains,  although  we  stuff  it  so  with  fattening  food,  that 
it  does  not  have  a  chance  to  use  its  brain